The Flying Sulsers are a Richmond cover band. They describe themselves as a “raucous mix of Swing and Country peppered with strains of Hillbilly and Bluegrass”. The show Thursday was characterized by high energy, and what I am calling “loose harmony.” The vocal blends fit together beautifully, but not in a barbershop quartet way. It feels like the musical equivalent of doing stunts on runaway horses–beautiful, technically spot-on, but with a sense of messy adventure that is appealing.
They covered a bunch of stuff, and–silly me!–I didn’t jot down the playlist. A few of the songs included “Blue Moon,” “Undecided,” “A-Tiskey, A-Tasket,” and “Two to Tango.” It was obvious the group loved what they were doing, and the best word to describe their style is “fun.” The group is led by Brian Sulser, who plays the upright bass (and even though I had 7 years of orchestra, I didn’t know until today that was called a doghouse bass), with Marty Flipman on guitar, and Aimee Sulser leading the vocals. They remind me of the Texas swing band Asleep at the Wheel. They have the same casual competence that fools you into thinking their performance is easy.
We enjoyed their performance immensely. You can bump into them all over Richmond, but I’ve had a hard time finding their dates ahead of time. In addition to yearly appearances at Lewis Ginter, they’ve played at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art’s jazz nights, and Taste of Richmond. Lewis Ginter had the sound done perfectly. If you were anywhere near the show, you could hear every note clearly in spite of the happy kids dancing and talking.
The rest of the Flowers After Five schedule is available at Lewis Ginter’s website. The second and third Thursdays each month are also Fidos after Five, when you can bring your pets on their leash to enjoy the garden. So look for the Flying Sulsers around town, and come to Lewis Ginter on Thursday for more great music.
So. . . Hen got to go to a Keb’Mo concert. Because he lives in San Di-frickin’-Paradisi-AY-go. He got some great pictures, because he’s good like that.
I got to see Keb’Mo once, too, long ago. It was in Austin, which should have made it wonderful. But it was so long ago he was opening for Lyle Lovett. In an outdoor venue. And my cheap seats were by concessions. Now I think Lyle Lovett is one of music’s true gentlemen, and will challenge you to a duel if you think differently. But his fans. . .well, the ones at the concession stand evidently did not realize Keb’Mo was the same caliber of genius as Lyle, and made a ton of noise. So I didn’t get as much enjoyment out of my Keb’Mo concert as Mr. Third-Row-in-the-Intimate-Venue-of-Belly Up. Not that I’m bitter. . .or anything.
Here’s a tiny snippet of the concert, compliments of Lucky Hen:
Since I want to have some part in the Kevin Moore adventure, I’m writing a review of his latest album, BluesAmericana. It has everything I love about Keb’Mo. It’s equal parts touching and humorous, upbeat and heartbreaking. It has a beat. Perhaps, most importantly, it meets my requirement for blues–you may be talking about how life is low-down and dirty, but you can’t help smiling, because you’re having so much fun making music about it. Here’s a quick run-down of the songs, and more of Hen’s great pics. Because, you know, none of us got to go.
“The Worst is Yet to Come” I nominate this song as the official song for Mondays. It has everything–starting off wrong with a hangover, broke down car, lost job, lost woman who was no good to begin with. Everyone has days like this–and if you haven’t, just put this album back. You ain’t ready to listen to the blues yet. But here’s the thing about blues in general, and especially Keb’Mo’s blues, and even more especially his particular mix of blues/folk/funk/americana–he doesn’t dwell in the dumps. “I take a look around me. . .guess I”m doing pretty good.”
“Somebody Hurt You” I loved Keb’Mo from the first time my husband introduced me to his music because he writes songs that are good to women. He has a sweet tenderness, and many of his songs, just like this one, promise to make the past sweeter with his devotion in the present. The song has a gospel quality that raises the comfort quotient on it. This is a song to sing to the person you love when they’ve had the day in “The Worst is Yet to Come”.
“Do It Right” The perfect song for new love. Or an anniversary. Or a wedding. It’s goes beyond “I got the hots for you” to a mature look at the gentle hope, tenderness, and willingness to grow that love needs. My husband and I have a wedding songlist that we have grown over each anniversary. This song is going on the list.
“I’m Gonna Be Your Man” A true devotion song in the blues tradition. John Lee Hooker wanders through when Keb’Mo says “I’m a man, I’m a full grown man.” I love the confident certainty in this song–he’s gonna get his girl in the end. And that’s that. Shooby-doo-whap-whappa. . . .
“Move” Some great vocal wails start this one out. A good song for transitions, especially the ones you have to make because your world has broken beneath you. This song gives you the courage to face unpleasant facts and MOVE. It also has plenty of the wry humor that brings me back to Keb’Mo for feel good music.
“For Better or Worse” Most of this album is upbeat. This song has Keb’Mo’s quiet tenderness. If he wasn’t such an amazing musician, he could have been a great marriage counselor. Play this song when you know you’re with the right person but you’re having a hard time. It reminds you that good things take work, and that’s ok.
“That’s Alright” The best blues song on this album. It’s got the beat, it’s got the hard times, it’s got the raw loneliness of wondering what your once-love is doing with that other person. And like all blues songs, it’s got the stand up and be counted, take no prisoners, make justice happen ending.
“Old Me Better” This song got a lot of attention when the album first came out. It has a great sense of humor and triumph. Sometimes the changes you have to make to be with another person are just too much. This song reminds you that you don’t need to be with anyone that won’t let you be yourself.
“More for Your Money” Nostalgia songs are great, and this one brings the Americana-folk feel squarely into the album. It’s got the plucky acoustic strumming, an aw-shucks tone, and the sense that yesterday was better.
“So Long Goodbye” Keb’Mo can break a heart more gently than any singer I’ve ever heard. This song about a love that just won’t work is shattering, but brushes your tears with a feather-softness. I hope this song doesn’t resonate with you. But if it does, the kind resignation of the song will help you begin the process of moving on.
Keb’Mo is an American treasure. If you haven’t heard him, this album is a great place to start. If you have, this album will remind you why you love him so much. He’s still on tour. You can see if you can still catch him near you here.