The current era of the Abbey Theatre may be coming to an end, and talk of its future is on the lips of just about every music lover and concert-goer in town.
How it all shakes out remains to be seen, but the current management is closing out its tenure with a bang. There is a steady stream of shows in January, the standard fare of electronic, jam, bluegrass, rock and world-influenced funk that has graced the stage for the last four years. The venue also has been a launching pad for up and coming Austin, Texas, roots-rock bands; Band of Heathens became Durango regulars, as did Mickey and the Motorcars.
On Saturday night, the Abbey will welcome another large Austin band, the quintet of Uncle Lucius. Uncle Lucius is Kevin Galloway on guitar and vocals, Hal Vorphal on bass, Mike Carpenter on guitar and vocals, Josh Greco on drums and Jon Grossman on accordion and guitar.
Uncle Lucius is a rock band, although fans and those in the industry are constantly pressuring them to expand their label, which is an arduous and unnecessary part of the music business. The question, “What are they like?” is a phrase that makes most musicians and music writers cringe. They’re a rock band, and that should be enough.
The “rock” label should tell you that they sometimes can play blues, they can play country and they can play Americana, all on amplified acoustic or electric instruments. Even the Rolling Stones, the World’s Greatest Rock ’n’ Roll Band, had a few country ballads and some great blues, too. Uncle Lucius’ 2012 release “And You Are Me” exemplified that kind of diversity.
“Everybody is always asking to describe the music. I just call it rock and roll,” Vorphal said. “We put our own twist on whatever that may be. Lots of country, blues, classic rock, we just try to make it our own. We do that somewhat on purpose. We all have fairly varied styles that we’re into. We try to squeeze that all in there. Record labels and people like that don’t really like it, but, to me, there’s good music and bad music, and we’re trying to make good music.”
The mission to make good music began seven years ago, when Vorphal started playing with Galloway. The rest of the band filed in after; “And You Are Me” is the band’s third release. Although they call Austin their home, Uncle Lucius remains a live band, living more out of a tour van than a proper residence. Their always-on-stage, play-it-live mentality carries over into the studio, where they’ll make the time later this year to cut a fourth record.
“We try to get as much as we can live,” Vorphal said. “I think we’ve done pretty well so far of getting a live feel out of our albums, definitely an ‘organic album’ feel. We are a live band, that’s our calling card.”
Liggett_b@fortlewis.edu. Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager.