When: Friday, July 21
Where: Three Links
Times: Doors: 8:00 pm | Show: 9:00 pm
Barefoot, sleeveless and sweaty, Whiskey Shivers frontman and fiddle master Bobby Fitzgerald never stops smiling on stage. "All right! Let’s kick this thing in the face!” he barks, as the band tears into their stringed instruments at breakneck speed.
It's almost impossible to watch him perform more than a song or two without cracking a smile yourself. His exuberance is contagious, and it bleeds through into the music. Whether they're playing at a backyard house party in Texas, a punk-rock dive bar or a sprawling country music festival, crowds take notice. People put down their phones, pick up their drinks and start dancing.
“Whiskey Shivers isn't just the five of us on stage, it’s everybody in the room," Fitzgerald says. "We try to bring everybody into the moment and get them to realize there's no wall between us and the crowd. We're all in this together, and we're all here to have a good time. We'll do our best to facilitate it, but it takes all of us to make it happen. When you start to feel that, you can't help but feel a little attachment and become invested in the show. You realize, 'Oh, I'm here to have good time too!’”
Despite their joyful demeanor, the guys in Whiskey Shivers aren't pretending that life is always easy. Far from it, Fitzgerald explains. Their new self-titled album, produced by fellow roots music boundary-pusher Robert Ellis, is heavy with traditional bluegrass themes and imagery lamenting universal struggles - work, pain, sin, regret and death.
It's in the contrast where Whiskey Shivers' music shines. They infuse their songs with punk rock energy and a darkly comical light-heartedness, stretching the bluegrass genre to fit whatever they feel is right. For them, being happy is a conscious choice, and making fun of life's struggles is part of their philosophy.
"We're all going through shit all the time. We recognize that life's tough," Fitzgerald says. "We try to write songs that recognize the hard times that we all share. When you put your problems out on the table where everyone can see them, it doesn't really have the same power over you any more, and you can start to acknowledge it, separate yourself from it, and go on with your life. Try to take a night where you can forget about your problems and just feel good, have a good time with your friends, make new friends, and be part of a little community for a while."
With the sort of ingenuity you might expect to come out of Austin, TX, The Deer encompasses the innovation of the modern indie-folk revival and the cross-pollination of Austin’s diverse music scene. Described as transcendental Texas folk and stargaze surf-western, The Deer creates psychotropic soundscapes and tranquil, vivid dream-pop. In 2016’s release, Tempest & Rapture, The Deer marry their brand of moody Americana with rapturous psychedelia, like two wings of one soaring bird. What began as the solo recording project of singer/songwriter Grace Park (The Blue Hit), The Deer formed its core membership in 2012 after the release of An Argument for Observation under the band name Grace Park & The Deer. For their second album, On the Essence of the Indomitable Spirit (2015), their name was shortened to The Deer to represent the cohesive collaboration between all of the artists in the band, and because the group especially identified with deer as a symbol of protective guidance. Their music is like a beacon in the dark wilderness: shining of pure melodies, vivid images, and strong musicianship in a world of vapid ditties.
Original members include upright bassist/songwriter Jesse Dalton (MilkDrive), guitarist/sound engineer Michael McLeod (Good Field, Richard Linklater film composer), drummer/pianist Alan Eckert (Dimitri’s Ascent), and Park. Together they combine the Southern Gothic soul they’ve had all along with new cross-genre inspiration: analog tape and reverb effects by engineer/assistant producer Grant Johnson, vocals and piano by Roger Sellers (Bayonne), pedal steel by Lloyd Maines, as well as the expert string stylings of both Dennis Ludiker (Asleep at the Wheel) and The Deer’s newest member, Noah Jeffries (MilkDrive, South Austin Jug Band), who adds orchestration to live shows. With Tempest & Rapture, The Deer has created a dynamic collection of songs ranging between the blissful and euphoric to the dark and the dangerous. Rooted in surreal folk and Southern gothic as much as transcendental surf-rock, The Deer moves fluidly between genres, eliciting emotion as varied and surprising as Tempest & Rapture implies.
The Deer have played Austin’s historic Moody Theater and the Legendary Stubb’s, as well as festivals like Kerrville Folk Festival, Old Settler’s Music Festival, Utopiafest, and Oregon Country Fair. Members have shared the stage with Alejandro Escovedo, Peter Rowan, Tony Rice, Tim O’Brien, and Dana Falconberry. Their co-bill roster includes Elephant Revival, Trout Steak Revival, Hot Buttered Rum, Jeff Austin, and more. They are currently writing music for their upcoming fourth album to be released in the late spring of 2018.