Sunday, March 10th, 2013 was when Daylight Savings Time officially kicked in for this year, and what better way to “spring forward” into longer days with more sunshine than to spend an evening with in a window-covered space in the West End of Dallas as the sun set a little more slowly, and incredible musicians shared their talents with a room full of appreciative music lovers?
White Space Dallas was kind enough to offer one of their 5th-floor meeting rooms to the SofarDFW crew as a performance space, and the amazing musicians who make up If Birds Could Fly, Kelley McRae, Locksley, and Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown were kind enough to offer their tremendous talents as they stopped through Dallas. Also, the generous folks at Eno’s Tavern in nearby Oak Cliff were kind enough to donate pizza for the bands, and I’m told it was quite delicious!
The evening’s performances were kicked off by Virginia natives If Birds Could Fly (there was a fun discussion about whether they were from “south West Virginia” or “southwest Virginia” in our corner of the room, the latter of which was confirmed after the show!). The group’s style is described on their Facebook page as a “haunting mix of Appalachian folk, Americana, and retro country,” which sums up the essence of their sound much better than I could. Lead singer Brittany Ashley was nearly floating above the floor with her bouncy energy and her vocals (reminiscent of a young Dolly Parton) soared over the room. The entire group had an easy banter and a pleasantness that one would naturally expect from natives of the Deep South.
Next up was one quarter of the band Locksley, singer and guitarist Jordan Laz. Jordan’s performance could not have been more different than the opening act. He combined storytelling with musicianship as he moved seamlessly from song to song with no room for applause (at his request), which gave the entire set a very “performance art” feel to it. Because of this, I found myself really listening to the lyrics he sang and feeling how the music changed with each story. Those with keen ears probably noticed the repetitive vocal and guitar motifs used throughout the performance.
After a quick break, the music continued with Brooklyn native Kelley McRae, accompanied by her husband. There seems to be a special chemistry that exists between husband-and-wife artists, and Kelley and her husband were definitely no exception. The two of them communicated effortlessly with a quick glance, a small smile, or a breath taken together before continuing a phrase. Kelley was programmed nicely after Jordan Laz as she also told complete stories with her music, both lyrically and melodically. Her rich voice and poetic lyrics, accompanied by her husband’s impressive guitar skills, provided a beautiful set that was over all too soon.
By the time the sun had officially set, the lights of downtown Dallas’s famous skyscrapers and Reunion Tower provided the background for Nashville residents Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown. As I was sporadically tweeting during the event, I mentioned that I’d bet good money that this foursome was somewhat influenced by The Sheepdogs, but it turns out that lead singer Tyler Bryant has been influenced by the great musicians of earlier years: Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Black Crowes, just to name a few. Between songs, my husband said to me, “I bet they don’t play in this type of [acoustic] setting often, but they definitely should.” I couldn’t agree more! These guys were born to rock, for sure, which was evident in their barely contained ability to sit still in their chairs. However, it’s when artist or group is stripped down with no lights or amps or smoke to enhance their performance that their true abilities and talent are able to shine through. Tyler Bryant and his equally impressive band mates proved that they can (and should) rock any venue, regardless of size or style. I hope they continue to explore their acoustic side, but I also would pay good money to really see them in their element.