Live Review: Sublime Tribute Band Wrong Way with The Taj Motel Trio at Smith’s Olde Bar

Photos by Stephanie Heath (Facebook/Instagram) – Gallery Found Below

On August 17th Smith’s Olde Bar was bustling with the usual bar flies and concert goers that were partaking in their decompression from a stressful work week. Small hurdles of people crowded the stoop, getting their nicotine and breath of fresh air between shots and sets. Friends gathered around tables of libations, trading conversations of their weekly plights. Patrons were already queueing up to enter Smith’s iconic Music Room before the doors were even open for the night. And there was just cause for this pile up of music enthusiasts. Slated to play that night were Georgia’s own Wrong Way, a seasoned tribute band to Sublime,  and The Taj Motel Trio, a ska band slated to play at this year’s DragonCon.

After attendees got lubed up on drinks and conversation, the curtains in the Music Room drew back to reveal the first act of the night, The Taj Motel Trio. A band hailing from Habersham County, these guys are comprised of the standard trio of a vocalist and guitarist, bassist, and drummer but with the addition of two trumpets, two trombones, and a baritone sax. These guys boast the largest brass section I have even seen in a ska band. And if you didn’t notice, The Taj Motel Trio is not a trio, as their name comes from an inside joke with roots in the band’s hometown. However, names and jokes aside, these guys are the real deal when it comes to performing. Although they are stacked on the brass side, The Taj Motel Trio played a balanced set between all their musicians, with each member of the band given a chance at the spotlight.  Their songs had strong brass intros with harmonies that were sweet on the ears followed by wicked guitar melodies paired with an aligned drum and bass beat. On top of the technical expertise of the band to create a full sound, they show their nerdy side with what they sing about, including video games and Star Wars, with one of their songs literally called “Vader”. Overall, The Taj Motel Trio has the charisma and energy that embodies the spirit of ska music. I give a heavy stamp of approval and look forward to their debut at this year’s Dragon Con.

To continue the night, Atlanta’s own Wrong Way took to the stage with a cool vibe that holds true to their inspiration for their music, Sublime. A classic three piece act, with their lead guitarist on vocals, the band instantly stole the spotlight from the moment the curtains were drawn back, revealing a packed house. This being Wrong Way’s first show in Atlanta in a good while, as the band is constantly touring the southeast, the crowd in attendance really was a testament to the talent behind the band. Each musician had distinct melodies you could pick out in each of their songs that came together in a dovetail of pure delight to the ears. Their drummer has a timeshare in the pocket that he checked into from the first song of the night. He both held the set down and played around with complex melodies to give his drumming more character, something only seen with true masters of the kit. Wrong Way’s bassist kept it real with his impeccable taste in rhythmic beats that rock the soul. His groove could not be derailed by anything other than the occasional sip of a beer to keep his playing loose. The band’s front man guitarist, the last piece of this puzzle that forms a picture of true talent, killed it with his showmanship not to mention his talent on vocals or on guitar. He truly does Sublime’s original front man Brad Nowell justice allowing him to rest easy knowing Wrong Way does his music right. The band played through a full set that consisted of fan favorites of Sublime such as “Santeria” and “Smoke Two Joints” that got the entire venue up in a sing-a-long and even an acoustic break in the middle where their front man got intimate with the audience. Each song had the crowd up in a dance party even with some flow art involved. It was a truly uplifting vibe all around, which is a mark of true connection between a band and it’s audience. Finishing out the night with “Caress Me Down” there was only a room of smiles remaining with the occasional cheering from a patron for more. Wrong Way is definitely a band not to miss if you are looking to get your fix on some good music.

Smith’s Music Room once again hosted some of the best musicians and music fans of today’s scene. As this was my first time visiting this magical venue, I look forward to the next show I catch here, and the next 20 or more after that.

Photo Gallery – Taj Motel Trio

 

Photo Gallery – Wrong Way

Live Review: Hush Money, Magnolia Moon, and Whiskey Tango at Smith’s Olde Bar

Photos by Tori Radcliffe (Gallery at the Bottom)

The evening of August 15th hosted a slew of events in Atlanta that pulled people out of their weekly routines to venture out into the city. Dave Chappelle was in town causing a ruckus of laughter as is his style. Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling were also gracing Atlanta with their talents in a joint tour. However, the right place to be was at Smith’s Olde Bar for their showcase of some of Georgia’s own rock and roll acts. The lineup, consisting of Hush Money, Magnolia Moon, and Whiskey Tango, brought down the house as each band put years of practice into action to entertain their fans. Even some of the usual barflies drifted over to Smith’s venue to witness the talent that took the stage that night.  

First up was Hush Money, a band hailing from Ellijay. These guys played some solid hard southern rock and really showcased their talents in their performance. Hush Money is your classic four-piece band with two guitarists, a bassist with a five string bass, something that adds extra depth to their music, and a drummer. However, they don’t just have one lead singer, as that would be too dull for these good old boys. During their set, the band switched between their two guitarists and drummer taking the vocals on different songs. Yes, Hush Money has three lead singers, each with a different register. These guys are definitely a band to check out as they bring their unique multitude of talents to the Georgia music scene.

Next up for the night was Magnolia Moon, another four-piece band that graced us with their presence all the way from Macon. On first look, these guys have a very southern appearance with the expectation of possibly some country or light southern rock, but Magnolia Moon is anything but light. These guys hold true to their tagline of “grit, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll” with their wicked sound of true southern rock. Imagine if Hendrix and Lynyrd Skynyrd had a baby and you might get close to the mind-blowing music of this band. Their entire performance I had a breakout of goosebumps all over, unable to turn my attention anywhere but at Magnolia Moon. Their frontman and lead guitarist Zack Horton really owns the stage when he plays. With his band behind him, these guys are going places.  As it was their first time playing at Smith’s Olde Bar, I am really looking forward to them coming back to Atlanta. At the very least I want a taste of their cover of “War Pigs” as it would give Ozzy a run for his money.

Closing out the night was Canton’s own Whiskey Tango, yet another four-piece band that is hard to nail down just what they are. To take a stab at it, they are a glam-punk-southern rock band that puts the show in showmanship. Their lead vocalist/guitarist came out on stage to an intro by his bandmates dressed in an open-front purple leotard with a stylish coat. But instead of the standard glam 80s rock sound to match this glorious introduction, Whiskey Tango went right into their set that was brimming with savage guitar riffs, stage dives, behind-the-head guitar playing, and even a backflip. The energy they put off well exceeded the needed quota for the night as the crowd kept their attention on the stage for the next antics the band would get into. And overall, Whiskey Tango looked like they were having a blast up on stage, like the band equivalent of when your favorite song comes on the car radio and you break out in a small musical number. They even threw in a cover of “Under Pressure” that got the entire venue involved in a sing-a-long. Whiskey Tango is truly an experience, not just a band, that you have to witness in person.

Photo Gallery – Magnolia Moon & Whiskey Tango

Interview with Los Angeles punk band It’s Casual

Eddie Solis has hustle. He’s half of the L.A. punk band It’s Casual — a two-piece that played The Warped Tour with Bad Religion, NOFX and Story of the Year. They’ve also shared bills out of town with Mastodon, Early Man and Fu Manchu. That’s because Eddie Solis works hard making sure his music gets heard. When Solis plays, he comes off even harder. It’s Casual’s songs are loud, straight-to-the-point anthems about life in Los Angeles played. Solis shouts his lyrics with a palpable passion. The avid skater, lover of music and public transportation advocate lives the same way. Target Audience checked in with Solis just before his band released their latest album, The New Los Angeles II, to talk about his passions.

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Los Angeles is a city that a lot of people hate on. What is so inspiring to you about the city?

The inspiration of L.A., for me, comes from exploring the city car free. Being green and eco-friendly about it. That being said, as a car-free Angelino, I feel free; I feel un-attached to a congested freeway. I feel un-attached to parking fees, gas and monthly car and insurance payments. So it’s a stress free situation.

It’s easier to love L.A. when you’re not trapped in a car, right?

I can commute from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena to Hollywood to East Los Angeles back to downtown Los Angeles for $3.00 a day by using the “unused” EZ Pass. I get off any stop and explore; soak in the people, the culture, the geography and the vibe. And getting to each destination is a breeze so when I arrive, I’m very open and at ease for a new experience. Los Angeles is so big and being able to explore car free is a treat. I literally hop on and off to each stop. And allowing all things to resonate is completely priceless. The inspiration comes from the ability to explore every crevice and alley way in addition to all the landmarks.

Some people would say the subject of public transportation is fairly mundane? Why write songs about subway lines?

Good question. I am using the theme as a platform to share my perspective and experiences. For instance, “The Redline” was originally written because I challenged a friend to meet me at L.A. Live for an event. And we were both coming from Hollywood. At rush hour on a weekday, I arrived thirty minutes earlier. That is how I started coming up with the lyrics, “The 210 /  the 605 / the freeways / are not so nice.’ It’s an all perpetuated from real life experiences.

On the other hand, my intent is to expose a perspective of Los Angeles that doesn’t exist. That perspective is through the eye’s of a bus rider.

What music reached you the way you hope to reach people with the messages in your music? What did those songs inspire you to do?

I would say Black Flag and Cypress Hill. Black Flag inspired me not with the music so to say, but more with the big picture. Meaning: record your own records, release them yourself. And everything is DIY! Don’t follow the trends. Part of the Black Flag message is the work ethic. Being relentless. Cypress Hill for crafting their own sound and sticking to it.

Are you an LA native? If so what was it like growing up in LA?

I was born in East Los Angeles and raised in El Sereno and Whittier. To me, growing up in the 80s and 90s was a cultural phenomenon. Once the movie “Colors” came out, everyone got into gangs. Seems like one day everyone was skateboarding down the street together and the next I was at their funeral. Growing up in LA was definitely great to mix it up with different cultures and defining your own individuality if you were determined to stay on a path of skateboarding and music as I did. That was a challenge, but taught tenacity.

Tell me about Dob Le Ve, the drummer in It’s Casual. How did you meet?

I met him at a gig at Cal State Long Beach. We were bonding over the Melvins.

What’s the wildest show It’s Casual has ever played?

Chicago at the Double Door with Fu Manchu on Halloween. That year it landed on a Saturday. We intentionally didn’t get a hotel room. Our flights were out of Long Beach airport at 3 p.m. PST Saturday. We arrived a couple hours before the gig, sound checked, played, watched Fu Manchu, partied til 4 a.m. and took public transportation back to O’hare airport. Flew out at 8 a.m. Central and landed at Long Beach at 11 a.m. or so.

Most of the songs on the new record are punk rock short. Tell me about your thinking behind “The Gap is Widening.”

“The Gap is Widening” is homage to Black Flag; the process of weeding out.

On your radio show, Los Angeles Nista, you get the opportunity to interview tons of amazing musicians. Who was your favorite to talk to and why?

I would say speaking with Keith Morris from Off! and Black Flag. With Keith, it was the stories. Also, Louie Perez of Los Lobos had great insight on Los Angeles in the 70s and 80s. Carla Harvey of the Butcher Babies because she had great insight and a love for Highland Park and enjoyed taking the Goldline.

Would you ever move away from L.A.?

Yes, but will I always have a residence because this is home.

 

For more information on It’s Casual, visit their website or Facebook page.