The air was crisp on Friday evening, bathed in the warm glow of soft light from streetlamps reflecting from myriad clouds. While the majority of Columbus prepared for the much-ballyhooed “snowpocalypse” that never seems to materialize, discerning aural aficionados were making their way to the Rumba Café on Summit St.
The subdued lighting within the confines of this venue always seem to wrap me in a comforting embrace as I pass over the threshold. It’s as if I’m coming home.
With the time inching ever-closer to the nine o’clock start of the show, the denizens were filling the space with muted conversations and the occasional sound of laughter.
With nary a fanfare, Micah Schnabel (Two Cow Garage) climbed on to the stage, with just a guitar and poignant observations between him and the crowd. Playing a short set of approximately 40 minutes, the assembled crowd was hanging on his every word and turn of phrase. I liken him to the topical protest musicians of the 1960’s, but for the modern generation. The set concluded with an impromptu Two Cow Garage finale.
After a short break, DEADnettles took their places across the intimate stage. Arguably a supergroup among the many musicians within this city and region, the band is comprised of Shane Sweeney (Two Cow Garage), Todd May, Jay Gasper and George Hondroulis (all three of Lydia Loveless’ band), and May’s bandmate from Fort Shame and Mooncussers, Jamey Ball.
They performed an upbeat, and at times raucous set that saw the audience clapping their approval at the conclusion of each song. The end of their set was reminiscent of a tame version of the way Nirvana would sometimes close their shows, with feedback and the possibility of breaking instruments.
With just enough time for the patrons to refresh their beverages and grab a quick smoke (if they were so inclined), the changeover between bands was complete.
Settling into a corner of the bar just off stage left, I leaned my back against the wall and awaited the cathartic sounds of Drift Mouth to wash over me.
With Lou Poster (vocals/guitar) leading the way, David Murphy (drums), Mark Spurgeon (lead guitar), Regan Tonti (vocals/percussion) and Eric Johnson (bass) joined him on stage. He stepped to the microphone and announced, “We’re Drift Mouth from Columbus, Ohio.” With that, they launched into their first number.
Opening with the measured pace of Starling, the band draped it in a dirge-like rhythm that was punctuated when Spurgeon’s guitar hammered as if hitting an anvil. Poster’s gravelly, whiskey-soaked vocals added a melancholy tinge to the lyrics.
They turned the tempo up a notch on Franklin County Nights, with Poster waxing poetic with the opening line of “I should probably get to drinking…” This was rather appropriate, considering the venue. The harmonies between Poster and Tonti were sonically pleasing, while the band gave the tune a definite “road house” feel to the number.
The slow-burning start to Tennessee Highway, one of their new tunes, morphed its way into a hard rocking road song with a hint of Appalachian styling. Once again, the harmonies were mellifluous and serene, accentuating the emotion Poster exudes as he relates each musical storyline.
The Ghost of Paul Weaver carried a blues-laden groove, with the hint of a shuffle wafting throughout. Spurgeon coaxed a “dirty” feel from his guitar, in stark contrast to the wonderful harmonies of Poster and Tonti.
“This one’s about a coal mine in West Virginia down where I’m from,” said Poster before launching into another new song, Loveridge is Burning. The midtempo pace easily evoked images of lamenting glory days gone by. The melancholy lyrical feel juxtaposed nicely with the tempo and was buoyed by the lush harmonies of Poster and Tonti.
The pensive sadness of The Straw Thief’s Way showcased Poster’s mournful vocals in a way that was endearing. Murphy and Johnson (drums and bass, respectively) provided a solid backbone that complemented the vocals, with Spurgeon eliciting a disconsolate wail from his axe. By the end, the band had an almost visible anger emerging as they played.
Murphy tattooed a midtempo backbeat on the drums to announce the premiere of another new song, Myra. The rich harmonies from Poster and Tonti gave this number a distinct Appalachian feel, as though you were sitting on the front porch looking out over a valley.
They raised the pace slightly for what is arguably the band’s signature song from their latest album, Little Patch of Sky. When Poster drawled “Bourbon in the glass, like a gun in my hand…” you could easily imagine yourself sitting in a dusty, roadside honky-tonk dive bar. They played it with a bit of edge that made it hit harder than the recorded version.
The penultimate number of their set was a “nastier” version of Angelene. Poster was on the edge of the stage playing his guitar to get the band into the groove. Spurgeon’s guitar took on a downright dirty tone, with the entire band really “feeling” the moment and letting loose.
With that, Poster thanked everyone and walked off the stage, as the band began to gather their equipment. But, no one in the audience made a move to leave.
After just a few moments, Poster noticed this and made his way back on the stage. They quickly composed themselves and launched into the somber This Part of Town. The pain was evident in Poster’s vocals, with an infinite sadness in the accompanying music. The smiles on the crowd and members of the band belied the desolate lyrics of the song.
Drift Mouth has a sound that should strike a chord within almost anyone that hears their music. In this writer’s opinion, they would seem to be poised to breakout, with their music resonating with fans coast to coast.
- Franklin County Nights
- Tennessee Highway (new song)
- The Ghost of Paul Weaver
- Loveridge is Burning (new song)
- The Straw Thief’s Way
- Myra (new song) *premiere
- Wake You Up
- This Part of Town (encore)
Drift Mouth – Wake You Up