Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Jul 03rd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Texas Mojo

music_BandOfHeathens1Tales of top hats, medicine men and synchronicity from The Band of Heathens

Gordy Quist is praying for a Texas flood. “It’s an outdoor gig here in Austin, and it’s like 110 degrees!” laments the singer-songwriter/guitarist. It seems Quist has just finished up a soundcheck for a hometown show with his quintet, The Band of Heathens.

The Heathens are set to appear at Kuumbwa Jazz on Saturday, Sept. 17 in support of their new Americana album, Top Hat Crown & the Clapmaster’s Son. While still peppered with the influences of bands like The Grateful Dead, The Band and The Black Crowes, the disc places a little more emphasis on the blues and R&B, than the group’s previous efforts.

Hold on … Top Hat and the who?

“I know, it’s a mouthful,” Quist chuckles. “All the radio people hate us! They’re like, ‘Man, you’d get a lot more spins if the title was easier to say. We don’t want to say the title every time!’”

The lengthy title is, in part, a reference to the album’s birthplace, Top Hat Studios. “From the beginning, there were some weird things happening around the Top Hat,” says Quist. For instance, the studio was originally based in downtown Austin, but it moved to a house in South Austin a number of years ago. At some point, an electrician who was doing some work in the house made a curious discovery: Though the studio’s owners hadn’t known it, all the wood used to frame the house bore a stamp with the words Top Hat Wood and a picture of a top hat.

In explanation of the other half of the album’s title, Quist says, “Late into the night, a lot of times you’ve gotta do something to keep everybody awake and focused, and sometimes just to keep things loose. And there was a character that we nicknamed Clap Masterson that would show up from time to time for inspiration.”

music_BandOfHeathens2In light of this, it’s fitting that the album should open with a number called “Medicine Man”: “Might lose your house, might lose your home, but I’ll give you back more than you have known.” Quist, who sings lead on “Medicine Man,” says this tune could be about any number of characters. “In my head, it fits both in a positive light and in a negative light,” he notes. “You could paint certain political figures or any leader in our culture either way with that song. I didn’t want to commit to making the song about one person or one particular thing, because I think the character we had in mind was bigger than that. But certainly there are current leaders that come to mind with that.”

Quist found inspiration for “Medicine Man” in the diaries of 16th century Spanish explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. “He got shipwrecked in Florida and walked all the way along the Gulf Coast, trying to basically talk his way into safety with the local natives,” the musician explains. “He’d pretend to be a medicine man, a healer or god. He’d basically say whatever he needed to say to survive.”

Some voodoo references in “Medicine Man” establish a Louisana theme that runs throughout Top Hat Crown, especially on the final three songs: the deceptively bouncy “Free Again,” a cover of Leon Everette’s oddly prescient late ’70s tune “Hurricane,” and the low-key “Gris Gris Satchel,” inspired by the historical New Orleans Voodoo queen, Marie Laveau. Quist, who grew up outside of Houston, partially attributes the persistence of the Louisiana motif to the fact that the band first entered the studio to record the album in the midst of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. “And we’ve spent a good amount of time in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, so it’s definitely a place that’s near and dear to us,” he notes.

For a taste of New Orleans by way of Texas, check out The Band of Heathens’ Kuumbwa gig on Saturday. Top hats and medicine bags are optional.


The Band of Heathens plays at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17 at Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $21/adv, $25/door. 427-2227.
Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Boards Are Back in Town

More than a century after a famed trio of Hawaiian princes first surfed in Santa Cruz, their redwood olo surfboards are returning to the Museum of Art & History

 

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

Saturday, July 4, is the 239th birthday of the United States, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence (the U.S. astrology chart has Aquarius moon—freedom for its people, by its people). Cancer, a liberating and initiating sign, is the “gate” where Spirit enters matter. Cancer receives and distributes Ray 3 (Divine Intelligence) and Ray 7 (new rules, new rhythms, new free nation under God). Cancer represents an intelligent freethinking humanity that can and must create right economics for the world. This means a policy of sharing, an opportunity for the U.S. when Venus (money, resources, possessions, etc.) retrogrades July and August in Leo (the heart of the matter). The United States has a unique spiritual task for the world: to lead humanity within and toward the light, accomplished by its people who must first awaken to this task, learn discrimination and be directed by the soul to assume the Herculean task of spiritual world leadership. Let us review the first words of our Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” Let us form that union together. The following is a review of the spiritual tasks for each sign. Read all the signs. They all apply to everyone.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 3

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Lunch is Packed

Picnic basket lunches from Your Place, plus smoked chili peppers, and new owners at Camellia Tea House

 

What would you like the Supreme Court to rule on next?

Raising the minimum wage so that those that are in poverty now can have a higher standard of life. Greanna Smith, Soquel, Nanny

 

Bruzzone Family Vineyards

Bruzzone Family Vineyards is a small operation run by Berna and John Bruzzone. Starting out a few years ago making only Chardonnay, they eventually planted Pinot Noir on their extensive property and now make this varietal as well.

 

Ty’s Eatery

Pop-up hooks up with Santa Cruz Food Lounge for healthy comfort food