Stone River Boys: Love on the Dial

RIYL: The Vaughan Brothers, Southern Culture on the Skids, Hacienda Brothers, Los Lobos

Guitarist Dave Gonzalez (Hacienda Brothers) and singer Mike Barfield, the core of Austin’s Stone River Boys, came together in 2008 when Gonzalez recruited musicians for a benefit tour to help raise money for his ailing Hacienda Brothers bandmate, singer Chris Gaffney. Gaffney was battling cancer and Gonzalez recruited musicians from Austin’s fertile talent pool, including Barfield, nicknamed “the Tyrant of Texas Funk.” Sadly, Gaffney succumbed to the disease, but the tour continued with proceeds being sent to Gaffney’s widow. Along the way, Gonzalez and Barfield began writing songs and eventually started laying down tracks while on the road. The good karma from the Stone River Boys’ noble gesture is evident as their debut album, Love on the Dial, is one of the most lively collections of music you’ll hear this season. Perfect for barbecues and games of cornhole; or just hanging out with your baby trying to stay cool (or heat things up) on a hot summer night.

A cover of Stephen Bruton’s “Bluebonnet Blues” propels the album forward like a sturdy old Ford and sets the tone of an album that crosses traditional country music with Texas blues and ’60s soul music for a hybrid  the Boys like to call country funk. The sound is best exemplified in “Can I Change It,” which blends a Steve Cropper guitar lick with a steel guitar playing like a horn section, and “The Struggle,” which brings to mind the Fabulous Thunderbirds in their ’80s heyday.

Elsewhere, the band adopts more traditional country sounds, such as “Lovers Prison” and the lovely “40 Acres,” a heartfelt lament of times gone by. The highlight of the record may be their cover of the Gerry Goffin/Carole King classic, “Take a Giant Step.” Fusing country, soul and a surf guitar twang, they create a magical, dreamlike song, something you’d expect to hear from Chris Isaak or Los Lobos.

The combination of Barfield’s voice and Gonzalez’s guitar playing have created  unique group. Barfield sings with bravado and a sincerity that seems lacking in so much of the slick country music that gets radio airplay. Meanwhile, Gonzalez’s guitar slinging is sharp and economical. When he needs to, he can put on a display of fast fingerwork, but he is such a fine musician that he knows when the song calls for fireworks and when it requires something more subdued. (Cow Island 2010)

Stone River Boys MySpace Page
Click to buy Love on the Dial at Amazon


Riverboat Gamblers Win Big With New Record

Riverboat Gamblers

From Volcom Entertainment comes the six-piece indie-rock outfit the Riverboat Gamblers.  Their fourth studio album Underneath The Owl hit stores last Tuesday and has been creating quite a buzz, thanks to their unique punk-inspired sound. 

Hailing from Austin, TX the Riverboat Gamblers bring the energetic spirit of the Lone Star State to rock ‘n roll with intense choruses and surprisingly heartfelt lyrics.  Their sound is the perfect mix of Rise Against and the Foo Fighters; just poppy enough to get stuck in your head, but sill hard enough to get your blood pumpin’.

            Their latest record is the perfect combination of infectious hooks and heavy guitars.  In a recent review wrote:

It’s weird to think that these Texas upstarts are largely relegated to the fringes of pop — what they do is so basic, so elemental, it’s hard to even come up with a modifier to place in front of “rock.”

It’s true that the normal definition of “pop” is nowhere to be found on Owl but there is a definite influence that shines brightly through their punk/rock façade. described Riverboat Gamberls’ sound perfectly, saying:

Much like Against Me!, Riverboat Gamblers make fast paced punk with all the hooks you could ask for…and they manage to do it without a whiff of bubblegum. 

The music isn’t the only thing that has critics raving; the Riverboat Gamblers put on one hell of a show.  In fact, in this month’s issue of RollingStone David Fricke wrote:

If there was a Purple Heart for punk-rock performance, Mike Weibe of raging Texans the Riverboat Gamblers would have a chestful.  He’s a singer who always brings the show to you—surfing on hands, swinging from rafters and spinning around pillars—and he has the scars, abused muscles and mended bones to prove it.

Fricke goes on to rave about Owl’s “high-velocity bundles of sanded-fuzz guitars and bloodlust-rah-rah choruses.”  There’s really nothing negative to say about this band.  Their sound is polished, infectious, and straight-up rockin’.  They’re currently on a nationwide tour complete with a few opening shows for Super-Punk stars Rise Against and Rancid.  Check out Riverboat Gamblers’ MySpace for a complete list of tour dates and shows near you.


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