Article and Photos by: Steven Principato
New York, NY — Upon the compact stage of lower Manhattan’s Bowery Ballroom, a pair of atypical musical acts prepared their collection of unique and dynamic sounds to be unleashed upon a rapidly growing multitude of eager and eclectic fans and first-time listeners.
Opening tonight’s short line-up of musically dynamic acts was the exceedingly powerful trio from Greensboro North Carolina, Irata. Billed as the opener, however judging from the packed room and the massive stage performance, Irata could easily be considered as a co-headliner for this particular bill. Impressively utilizing a solid bass and drums weighted foundation, then building upon this grand structure with a facade of free flowing, effects drenched guitar, resulting in a uniquely fashioned groove castle that might be comparable stoner rock favorites such as the Melvins and Torche, all the way to a more familiar alt-rock Jane’s Addiction or Soundgarden. With vocals equally divided among bassist Jon Case and drummer Jason ward, a front man who chooses to sit in the back of the stage as he takes on the enormous task of drums and vocals simultaneously, a feat no less impressing than legendary talents of fellow singing skinsman by the likes of Phil Collins, Levon Helm, Don Brewer, and Micky Dolenz. (The last example being drummer humor – no offense Mickey, you’re a funny guy) Completing this triangle of virtuosity, Cheryl Manner’s infectiously unique guitar licks gracefully danced about the rhythm section, never synchronizing but rather accenting and enhancing the concrete rhythmic foundations with a virtually improvised surge of atmospheric arpeggios and unchained melodies, not to forget the occasional Hendrix-inspired wah-wah stomping solos. Bringing the packed house some tracks from of their last release, Loris (2015 Retro Futurist) Irata delivered a memorable performance that reflected a band with an enormous dedication to their music and immense respect for the audience before them, who many of which undoubtedly left the venue that night with a new band they want to add to their playlists.
Headlining the show was a not-so-typical act from Nashville, TN – A city well known to represent the establishment of country and big record labels in America. Taking the form of a rather extraordinary 4 piece outfit armed with sound all their own, All Them Witches, a name possibly taken from the fictional book featured in Roman Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby” hit the stage with a ominously atmospheric bad-lands driving music track titled “The Death of a Coyote Woman”. Complete with the obligatory sliding guitars and big reverb echo, this track was a subdued show opener that by no means set the tone for the remainder of the set list. Fronted by the commanding blues-driven voice so adroitly provided by bassist/vocalist Charles Michael Parks, Jr. All Them Witches gracefully straddles a broad barrier between smooth soulful blues and the fuzzed-out world of psychedelic freak-out. Generously performing a number of tracks from their latest release, Sleeping Through the War (2017), from the lonely desert-rock paced “Cowboy Kirk” to the more mid-paced and heavier footed yet folky “Don’t bring me Coffee ”, the Bowery Ballroom graciously praised each and every piece of material the band bestowed upon them.
All them Witches are currently on tour with Irata this month and will be embarking on a multinational tour later in the year.