this week in texas twang #10: Mitch Webb and The Swindles
Being raised on a heavy dose of Mel Bay musical instruction books and a steady stream of Hee-Haw surely helped pave the way for one of Texas’ most notable cooking country acts, Mitch Webb and The Swindles.
Yes, Webb was raised on country, but he was also raised on the Texas’ infamous psychedelic playground where hippies and cowboys rocked out til the cows came home and then rocked out with the cows, thanks to an influential musical family member. (Ahem, just Google Cassell Webb.)
It’s telling Webb quotes influences like trash rocker Roky Erickson, songwriter Townes Van Zandt, cultural icon Freddy Fender and the laugh-out-loud banjo blues of country music’s answer to comedic ridiculousness, Jim Stafford. (Anyone remember “Spiders and Snakes?”).
His band The Swindles is of course laden with distinguished Texas talent including guitarist and knob-twisting Grammy winner Joe Reyes, guitarist Dave Wasson, one-moniker bassist Odie, other bassist Bart Nichols and drummer Paul Ward, who cover everyone from Homer Henderson’s “Lee Harvey Was A Friend Of Mine,” to Doug Sahm’s “Revolutionary Ways.”
Sad then that they hardly make waves on country radio despite more then a decade of rock-steady cultural country crooning, though Webb attests they’ve made it onto the Americana Radio Chart, most noticeably with Lonely Kind which garnered them nine weeks of ruckus making in 2008.
It only proves what true country fans already know: real country isn’t found on commercial airwaves, it’s found in the honky-tonks and watering holes of backwoods America, or in this case Texas, dually noted on The Swindles Last Band At Taco Land CD/DVD combo, a tribute to an infamous slain Texas bar owner who always had a heartfelt ‘F-you but there’s plenty of free Lone Star beer’ for musician’s waiting to play his stage. (Welcome to the Lone Star State.)
Webb and The Swindles are living proof that mournful tunes of lonely nights and Tex-Mex serenades are best left to true country crooners rather than the copycat Nashville clones.