Last Thursday, The Gates of Heaven Synagogue held the best southern-country/rock concert I’ve seen in Madison (and probably the most cowboy boots, bucket hats, and up-turned mustaches I’ve seen in Madison). Hurray for the Riff Raff and Sam Doores & the Tumbleweeds, both from New Orleans introduced some real southern vibes to Wisconsin as part of their tour. Austin Hays (Corcovado) also played a set different than any I’ve seen with the addition of three more band mates (Sean Borja, Jon Rath, and Brendan Durkin) taking turns on the piano, guitar, and vocals.
Sam Doores & the Tumbleweeds played first. Having heard good things about them from a friend who saw them play in New York over the summer, I had high expectations–they met every one of them and more. Unfortunately, as it was a Thursday night at a venue “far” from campus, the turn out was less than expected. But those that came experienced something really special. Their music reminded me of past family wedding receptions held in barns with lots of dancing, starry nights, and flowing beer. On one of their songs, two of the band members picked up tambourines which created an irresistible urge to dance.
Hurray for the Riff Raff played second. Alynda Lee Segarra’s guitar playing and vocals simply blew everyone away. This band of three members carried a much larger sound, melding guitar, bass, violin and those strong female vocals. The talent here was undeniable. Check out their Daytrotter session here and listen for yourself.
Lastly, Madison-favorite, Austin Hays and gang played. Four chairs were set up in front of the stage and were used intermittently throughout the set as accompanying musicians came and went. Sean Borja and Brendan Durkin accompanied Austin on acoustic guitars and Jon Rath, on the piano. The most interesting song for me to watch was “Out of Mind” because Jon preformed it on piano instead of keyboard or melodica as I had heard in the past. The last few songs were preformed by the three D.C. boys and an Appletonian.