Brian Wright & Band, The Troubadour (LA) 23/3 2012

Being one of the classic venues of the Los Angeles rock and folk scene it was with great pleasure I realized The Troubadour was just a ten minute walk down the street from where we stayed.  Since it opened in 1957 the club has hosted many young aspiring artists on its stage. Some of the musicians later became rock megastars, a photo-collage from Guns’N’Roses gig in 1985 hangs on the wall in the small bar by the entrance. James Taylor (partly together with Carole King) and Tom Waits also made a name for themselves here, on this stage they blew both audiences and some rock managers minds. A nice black and white photo shows Waits and Joan Baez smiling together inside the club somewhere round the mid-seventies. All photos that cover the bar-walls works as evidence of The Troubadour’s glory and the yellow light from the sign placed above the entrance surrounds you with an inviting warmth and the small torn box-office gives you an old fashioned feel reminding you of it’s long and rich history. The namedropping list of now legendary bands poets, writers and comedians that once appeared here would get embarrassedly long but I might just ad that Buffalo Springfield made their live debut here and the members of The Byrds met here, while playing at the club’s Monday open mike. Popular live recordings has also been cut at The Troubadour, many ended up with the suiting title Live at The Troubadour, Miles Davis and Fairport Convention used that title for instance. Despite the club’s former glories this place still delivers great bands and artist. If you are a regular here I guess you might have a fair chance seeing some of the big acts of the future…

The bearded Brian Wright walked around casually in cowboy boots inside The Troubadour like he was working there, turned up in every corner, before he and the band later entered the stage I assumed he was. Where I sat, up on the balcony with great overview, the stage’s setting looked really interesting. Four different electric guitars standing and shining beautifully center stage and on each side of them there was a keyboard and organ rig. Certainly there also was a drum kit and bas section behind the melody makers. It sure looked promising and I also realized it’s friday night which hopefully would ensure a great weekend show.

We came the right night because we got to see a endlessly versatile band with texan Brian Wright as it’s natural leader. Although the two keyboard-sections already looked promising before hand, it was nothing compared to how good it actually turned out to be once the two multi-instrumentalist sat down behind them. Except for their main instruments they gave Wright’s expressive songs extra luster with great harmony voices, trumpet, banjo, slide guitar. The lead guitarist who (like the rest of the band) looked sprung out of the seventies did everything he should for the sake of the songs, both playing slide and excellent rhythm those times Wright himself took the lead. Everything was exiting and it felt like they could do anything, in some of the short improvisation parts, without loosing tempo or direction in the song. Loose but steadily firm much thanks to the bas player and the drummer whom also did a splendid job keeping everything together. The opening song showed instantly what they were about with a soft but powerful vocal performance by Wright and just a hell of a swinging performance by the rest of the crew ending with a mexican-style trumpet melody and a final bash. It made you wonder if this really was the supporting act or in fact the next (slightly whiskey drenched) My Morning Jacket.

The show went on with both soothing down-beat tunes and rocking up-beat ones. One time Wright called up two female vocalists to help him out adding fantastic harmony to his lead singing and minimal and soft guitar strumming in a folk tune that dealt with loss of loved ones. Despite the sorrowful theme the song felt uplifting more than anything else, far from depressing. Hopeful. Without ever encountered anything of Brian’s work before he appeared this night as a solid artist and songwriter with a both soft, deep and powerful voice that worked excellent with his varied and quite simplistic lyrical themes. What appears easy is often the most hardest to come up with  and the band sure made these musically adventurous songs seem that way. It was a joyful performance that kept the spectator on it’s toes.

The rocking troubadour Brian Wright’s music and live performances must be a force to be reckoned with in the LA rock’n’roll scene. It really seemed that way last friday.

His third studio album House on Fire was released last year but I went for his second album (with the backing band Waco Tragedies) Bluebird (2007) hoping some of that quality from last friday might be in there somewhere.

Here is the song Striking Matches from his latest album:


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