Imagine it’s early in the 90’s, and a friend asks you to join him on a Tuesday night at Cheatham St Warehouse (www.cheathamstreet.com) to watch a new band led by an exciting new songwriter. You decline, and end up missing one of the first shows by the Randy Rogers Band (www.randyrogersband.com). You’d probably still be kicking yourself for missing that chance to see and get to know the band before their appearances on Leno or Letterman.
Well, it’s not the 90’s, and it’s not Randy Rogers, but you have the chance tonight to see two bands that may be the next Randy Rogers Band. Will Arrington (www.willarringtonmusic.com) and Brett Hauser (www.reverbnation.com/bretthauser) are two of the upcoming songwriters who have been opening shows for the likes of Cory Morrow and other Texas music stars, and have formed their own bands. Kent Finlay has given them a residency on Tuesday nights, the night he has reserved for bands he thinks have the potential to be the next big thing. Midnight River Choir (www.midnightriverchoir.com) was the last band to headline a Tuesday night at Cheatham, and they have turned into one of the most popular young touring bands in Texas.
Two weeks ago, I attended the first of many Tuesday night shows by this pair of bands. It was a cold Tuesday night, but I was one of about 150 fans that turned out. The Brett Hauser Band kicked off the night with a spirited set of originals and covers, Hauser performed covers by Ryan Adams, Chris Knight, Rodney Crowell, Slaid Cleaves, and Matt Powell, along with his popular original songs Gypsy Sound (winner of honorable mention in American Songwriter Magazine’s monthly lyric contest), Crazier I Get, Hard To Stay, Caroleen, and In My Head, and many others. Hauser’s band, which consists of Court Nance on guitar, Gray LeGere on drums, Tyler Mitska on mandolin, and Jeremiah Sawyer on bass, plays in the popular Texas Country style made popular by Pat Green, Cory Morrow, and Randy Rogers.
The Will Arrington Band came next, mixing Arrington’s original songs with a diverse set of covers of songs by Brooks and Dunn, Cake the Elephant, and Outkast. Yes, I did say Outkast, as the band had fun playing a funky version of Hey Ya! Arrington’s songs are more traditional country than Texas country, and the band puts a newer hipper sound to the traditional lyrics. They played his originals Coming Back Around, Betters Days, Come Home, My Old Friends, Blue Eyed Angel (which had most of the crowd singing along), and many others. His rhythm section of Luke Williams on bass and Daniel Head on drums has a funkier feel than you would expect at a country show, and Wes Maxwell on lead adds a nice touch. Arrington just recently finished recording his first full length cd, and it will be released in early 2013.
The one thing that stood out to me at this show is that you would have never known that these bands were playing their first shows together. They played like season veterans, and the crowd went away excited at what they had seen. I know I will be attending many of these Tuesday nights over the next few months, and you should too. The shows are free now, but I can’t say how long that will be the case. When you see one of these bands on late night television in the future, you can tell everyone you saw them back when.