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General Admission - Standing Room Only - Additional $5 Cash Surcharge At The Door For Under 21- Attendees Under 16 Must Be Accompanied By A Ticketed, Adult Guardian - Posted Times Are Door Times, Events Generally Begin 30-60 Minutes After Doors Open
Lucero has long been admired in their hometown of Memphis, where they have hosted “The Lucero Family Block Party” every spring for a number of years. At the 2018 Block Party they celebrated their 20th anniversary as a band, with the city’s Mayor Jim Strickland officially declaring it “Lucero Day.”
The group found their name in a Spanish/English dictionary. “Lucero” is variously translated as “bright star” or “morning star.” None of them can speak Spanish.
It’s been two decades since original members Ben Nichols, Brian Venable, Roy Berry, and John C. Stubblefield (keyboardist Rick Steff joined in 2006) started playing shows in Memphis. The band’s first show was April 13, 1998 at a warehouse space across the street from what is now the National Civil Rights Museum, the infamous Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. Their first set was six songs played to about six people. On August 3, 2018, record release day for Among the Ghosts, the band will be co-headlining Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado.
The band’s ninth studio album, Among the Ghosts, is their first for noted Nashville indie label Thirty Tigers. It was recorded and co-produced with Grammy-winning engineer/producer and Memphis native Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price, Drive by Truckers) at the historic Sam Phillips Recording Service, the studio built by the legendary producer after outgrowing his Memphis Recording Service/Sun Studio.
Recorded primarily live as a five-piece, Among the Ghosts eschews the Stax-inspired horns and Jerry Lee Lewis-style boogie piano featured on some of the band’s past recordings for a streamlined rock & roll sound that pays homage to their seminal influences as it seeks to push that legacy into the future. For a band who carried the torch of the alt-country movement back in the 90’s and helped pave the way for what is now called Americana, Lucero have re-discovered what inspired them in the first place. The sound is more their own and at the same time not exactly like anything they’ve done before. This is a band settling into their craft. The 10-song disc’s title is both a tribute to the spirits which roam the streets of their fabled city, as well as the hard road the determinedly independent band set out on 20 years ago. The band played around 200 shows per year for many of those 20 years.
With a nod to his younger brother Jeff Nichols, an acclaimed filmmaker whose movies include Loving, Mud, Take Shelter, Midnight Special, and Shotgun Stories; Nichols has written songs that are cinematic short stories, steeped in Southern gothic lore. There are nods to regional authors like Flannery O’Connor and Faulkner, as well as newer writers like Larry Brown (Big Bad Love, Fay), Ron Rash (The Cove, The World Made Straight), and William Gay (The Long Home).
As the first album he’s written since his marriage and the birth of his now two-year-old daughter Izzy, Nichols approached the task as a narrator rather than in first person. It’s a dark palette that includes tales of a haunting (“Among the Ghosts”), a drowning (“Bottom of the Sea), a reckoning with the devil (“Everything has Changed”), a divorce (“Always Been You”), and a shoot-out (“Cover Me”). And that’s just Side A. Side B is a letter from a battlefield (“To My Dearest Wife”), a crime (“Long Way Back Home”), a straight-out rocker (“For the Lonely Ones”) and even a spooky spoken-word cameo from actor Michael Shannon, who has appeared in every one of Nichols’ brother’s films. The song’s title “Back to the Night” references a line from Nick Tosches’ Jerry Lee Lewis biography, Hellfire. In addition, there’s a song Nichols wrote for his brother’s movie Loving, which appeared in the film and on the soundtrack, re-recorded for Among the Ghosts with the whole band.
“You could also say there’s a rescue, a getaway, a survival story and a middle finger to Satan himself,” laughs Nichols. “It’s all in your perspective.”
Several songs juxtapose going off to battle with a rock & roll band’s endless touring, shifting time periods like the spirits which haunt the album, the happiness of domestic bliss undercut with fears of loss and the specter of mortality. Among the Ghosts simultaneously reprises the past and looks to the future, while being firmly anchored in the present.
Musically, the band highlights range from co-founding member Brian Venable’s Dire Straits-meets-War on Drugs guitar pyrotechnics in “Bottom of the Sea” and “Cover Me” to the Springsteen vibe of “For the Lonely Ones”, Rick Steff’s skeletal piano lines on “Always Been You”, John C’s bass lines in “Everything Has Changed” and “Long Way Back Home”, and drummer Roy Berry’s dynamic shifts from the powerful and brutal title track “Among the Ghosts” to the marching drive of “To My Dearest Wife” and the subtlety of “Loving”. Throughout, Nichols’ bourbon-soaked growl has become even more distinctive and commanding.
Among the Ghosts offers a timeless perspective on Lucero’s distinctive sound. The lyrics could’ve been written 200 years ago or yesterday. Representing a new South compared to the one that’s been mythologized, Lucero have formulated their own ideas and culture which, in some cases, contradicts what came before them (no Confederate flags), but also updates and reconsiders those traditions in a new light.
“I think we’ve tried to remake this place that we love and cherish in our own fashion. We are very proud of where we are from and we’ve spent the last 20 years trying to bring a bit of our version of home to the rest of the world… It may have taken 20 years, but everything has fallen in place right where it needs to be,” acknowledges Nichols. “There were some dark days in those middle years, but we’ve learned how to do this and survive. We still write heartbreak songs, but now, with a family at home, it’s a whole new kind of heartbreak.”
Among the Ghosts lays out that new territory with alacrity, as Lucero shines their Morning Star, burning just as brightly, if not more so, 20 years later. As one of the album’s song titles so aptly puts it, “Everything Has Changed”, but one thing hasn’t… Lucero’s music remains more vital than ever.
"Josh Fleming and company have brilliantly combined punk, country, Tejano, and rockabilly influences to create a dynamic and modern cowpunk staple."
“Sounds like: rediscovering your parents' country record collection and realizing they’d make good punk songs.”
- Rolling Stone Country - 10 New Country Artists You Need To Know May 2017
" The Native, a tighter, more focused album that still retains the devil-may-care spirit of the band’s debut but pushes the Texas band in a more ambitious direction."
- American Songwriter
"On The Native, the band locks into a unique blend of punk progressions and country train beats. Fiddle swirls in and out of the verses as lead singer Joshua Fleming howls with Rancid-esque intensity...When it comes down to it, nobody is quite making music that sounds like this."
- Wide Open Country
" The Native, is a southern smoothie of influences, combining the raw angst of a Titus Andronicus or a Diarrhea Planet with the big brass gusto of Mariachi El Bronx."
- No Depression
An alt-country band with punk roots, Vandoliers formed in 2015, bringing together a group of Dallas-Fort Worth musicians led by frontman Joshua Fleming.
Fiercely proud of their homeland, Vandoliers put their own spin on the Texas country tradition with 2016's Ameri-Kinda, a debut album that mixed honky-tonk twang with hard-edged, rock & roll stomp. The band's follow-up release, The Native, arrives less than one year, doubling down on Vandoliers' modern approach to traditional influences. Rounded out by bassist Mark Moncrieff, drummer Guyton Sanders, fiddler Travis Curry, electric guitarist Dustin Fleming, and multi-instrumentalist Cory Graves, the group fills The Native's 10 songs with barreling guitar solos, train beats, anthemic melodies, mariachi horns, and the autobiographical details of Fleming's own travels.
"I grew up in Texas," the singer says, "and I wanted to write about why I loved it. I wanted to use myself as a character for my own songs. The Native goes through all our favorite styles of Texas music, and tells my story along the way."
A tribute to the band's Texas homeland, The Native takes its listener through a swirl of East Dallas dive bars, Pantego pool halls, small towns, big cities, and the rolling ribbon of bluebonnet-covered highway that stretches throughout the state. Along the way, Fleming sings about getting drunk, getting arrested, and getting it on. Behind him, the band kicks up a storm of Western swing, electric blues, roadhouse rock & roll, Tejano, cowboy country, and twangy punk, saluting everyone from fellow Texans Bob Wills to ZZ Top in the process. There are songs about leaving town. Songs about coming home. Songs about the short-lived romances that spark, burn, and fade in roadside bars, and songs about the lasting relationships that await back at home. It's a full cycle — a detailed exploration of what it means to truly belong somewhere.
"I was born September 1st in a little town outside Fort Worth," goes the first line of the album's kickoff track, "Bluebonnet Highway." If The Native unfolds like a coming-of-age movie, then "Blue-bonnet Highway" is the opening scene: a fast-moving montage of clips from Fleming's home, filled with neighborhood girls, traffic lights and the state flowers that bloom every spring. From there, Fleming and company hit the highway with "Rolling Out," a fiddle-fueled, horn-filled salute to the road, and wax nostalgic with the epic, driving "Endless Summer." By the album's end, they're back in Dallas-Ft. Worth, spilling all the details of their journey to a friend in "Welcome Home."
For Fleming, the real journey started years ago, when his sister took him to a Bad Religion con-cert. That night left a permanent impression on the young teen, who left the show inspired to make his own music. Years later, he earned his first audience as the frontman of the Phuss, a rowdy punk band that toured nationally. Business was good, but Fleming's personal life was heading south, with songs like "I Don't Feel Good" hinting at a troubled mind. After bottoming out, he resurfaced by meeting his future wife, falling in love, swapping his electric guitar for an acoustic, and writing a batch of songs that his country-loving partner might enjoy. Vandoliers were born, with many of those new songs filling the tracklist on the band's Ameri-Kinda debut.
Recorded in the same studio where Willie Nelson made Red Headed Stranger, The Native was tracked to tape by producer John Pedigo. The album was finished in four days, capturing the spark and spunk of a live band whose tour dates have included shows with the Jayhawks, Old 97's and Reverend Horton Heat. Released on the heels of Ameri-Kinda, The Native isn't just a story about where Vandoliers have been. It's a sign of where they're going. It's twang and tattoos, grit and guitars, honky-tonk and horns, Tejano and Telecasters. It's Vandoliers.
Vinyl Music Hall
2 S. Palafox St.
Pensacola, FL, 35202