Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Music Review: The Dempseys with Hosty Duo

Posted on Wed, Feb 7, 2007 at 5:02 PM

Mark Hooper, a local music aficionado/performer and occasional reviewer on this blog, as well as a judge for the Showcase last week, checked out the Dempseys big show at Sticky Fingerz last Friday. SPecial guests were one of our favorites, Oklahoma's Hosty Duo. Here's what the Hoop has to say:

My first weekend in 2007 to finally step out and listen to some live music ... I needed a good dose of rock-n-roll -- balls-to-the wall, hide the women and children, sinful, decadent rock-n-frickin-roll, baby! As I have written before ... be careful what ya go round whishin'!

On Thursday, Feb. 1st I received a last minute invite to sit in as a judge for a preliminary round of the Arkansas Times Musician's Showcase. I was treated to a night of diverse and promising talent - Beau Nixon, 4X4 Crew, Cooper's Orbit and Reverburritos. Excellent job one and all. This was a perfect warm up for the barn burning show I would be treated to on Friday evening, too.


I got to Sticky Fingerz a bit early and met a few buddies to grab a bite before the show (by the way, Sticky staff ... my last name is Hooper not Cooper. No sweat, it happens all the time). My buddy Greg is a mongo Dempseys fan, but knew nothing about Hosty Duo. Greg asked me what the skinny was on this band. About all I knew was that they came highly recommended by the Sticky staff.

Prior to this performance I also gleaned a peak on the group's MySpace page (what a great resource for music lovers). I learned that these guys are from Norman, Oklahoma and that they are both named Michael -- Michael "Tic Tac" Byers on drums and Michael Hosty on vocals and guitar. I also learned that Hosty chooses to be referred to just as Hosty (drop the Michael now).

Upon sampling the three tunes on their page, I found myself instantly digging the creative force of Hosty -- his style, his songwriting, his offbeat humor and most definitely his nicely crafted, wicked but sweet guitarsmanship. I told my buddy, Greg ... I was really looking forward to hearing these guys perform live. They did not disappoint.

Hosty ... in his dead pan candor and Johnny Depp meets John Malchovic features, stepped to the stage and proceeded to declare -- in a nervous, rattled tone, that he felt no pressure opening up for the Dempsey's. What a hustler. He sheepishly announced 'song No. 1' and immediately unleashed a fuel injected testimonial that showed no fear! Hosty kicked back on his perch and he made his Fender wail and this was just the beginning. The crowd almost bought that whole trepidatious intro ... NOT HARDLY!

'Song No. 2' as he introduced it, showcased Hosty's talent on yet another instrument - the kazoo. It was that kind of evening! Song No. 3 was a nice blend of a Texas swing style mixed with a little Johnny Cash (GOD BLESS JOHNNY!!!). Song No. 4 was a bit reminiscent of Buddy Holly and Buck Owens ... at the same time - slammin'. Song No. 5 just flat out rocked -- to the delight of the full house, who was totally digging Hosty's sound.

Song No. 6 threw the crowd a direct curve. This song, "Oklahoma Breakdown" presented a totally different sound. More fashioned like a sweet sounding Allman Brothers song with floating slide guitar, the crowd hit the dance floor in response to the infectious groove without skipping a beat. Nice tune, Hosty!

Saving the best for last -- and turning the amps up to 11, the Hosty Duo hit the frenzied crowd with two more of their finest 'off-beat' tunes with "Chewbaca" (great Chewbaca growl, Hosty) and what had to be the crowd choice - "Fraidy Hole," which features an F19 tornado ... need I say more.

I would love to see what kind of creative mushroom cloud could be formed if Hosty and Wammo (from the Asylum Street Spankers) ever got together to collaborate lyrically! I wonder what kind of F19 tornado could be created by adding the good Reverend Peyton to this collaboration! Oh, son!!!

I know this, just as the Spankers and Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band both solidified a loyal local following after their Little Rock performances, a definite Hosty Duo fan base was born this Friday night. I experienced it first hand as I was enjoying a quick conversation with Hosty as fan after fan approached him and asked, "Hey, you got that 'Fraidy Hole' on one of them CD's?" Right on!!!


Firstly, I am a huge rock-a-billy fan ... dig? Secondly, friends of mine turned me on to the Dempseys 3 or 4 years ago and GOD BLESS THEM! With that said, I have missed this Memphis trio EVERY TIME they have played Little Rock. I was not going to be denied this time. No sir. No way. Finally, a ticket to a taste of rock-n-roll heaven.

Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire! These guys casually stepped onto stage and my buddies immediately sat up on the edge of our booth ... like they were about to witness a bar fight. 'Slick' Joe Fick casually grabbed his upright bass and the minute he dared to thump that first string, they were 'go daddy go!!!' As Brad and Slick did their quick imitations of bobble heads on speed, we were immediately induced into a sweat drippin' speed fest that would lay waste to many of those dueling piano bar acts and a few 'not so heavy' rockers. This was high energy, not for the faint hearted...and it was everything I was told it would be. HOT DAMN AND A CUP OF JOE!

Flashing skilled musicianship with Joe on Bass, Ron Perrone Jr. on drums and trumpet and Bradley Dean Birkedahl on guitar; or was that Joe on guitar, Ron on bass and Brad on drums ... er, wait ... Ron on guitar, Brad on bass and Joe on drums? DAMN BOYS, YER CONFUSIN' ME ... STOP MOVING AROUND SO MUCH!

These guys do not disappoint nor do they ever stop. They were 8 or 9 songs deep into their play list when they finally came up for air ... as did the crowd. We were a ragin' fit of whiskey infused twisted limbs, pitted t-shirts and sweaty brows as the Dempsey's rocked us through an ADD montage of tunes like 'Yakity Yak,' 'Folsom Prison Blues,' 'White Lightning,' 'East Bound and Down,' Blackfoot's 'Train, Train'...along with snippets, thoughts and casual notions of other tunes (I think I heard a flash of "One Scotch, One Whiskey, One Beer" along the way.

Throughout this rocking workout (that would leave Jane Fonda gasping for air) the three agile musicians played a mean ass game of twister -- with their instruments! First of all, no one rides an upright bass like Slick -- period! Then he picks the damn thing up, holds it over his head while Ron thumps out a beat on the strings with his sticks, meanwhile Brad slides behind Joe, placing his guitar in front as they interchange play on the stringed instruments. What can't these hepcats do?

High points for this groovin listener were the homage to guitar master, Dick Dale. This was nothing short of absolutely In-f'n-credible. Ron, your licks on the trumpet on 'Misirlou' gave me frickin goose bumps. As a huge fan of Dick Dale and His Del-tones, thanks boys!

The Dick Dale montage took back seat to a Dempsey's classic, in it's own right,"Twenty Fingers, Two Necks." Brad straps on a double neck guitar and Joe joins him in a fly by your fingers free-for all up and down the frets of both necks and even throwing in some nice dual harmonies.

Toward the end of their ride, the band performed an homage to some of their influences and favorites. They flew through a barrage of guitar legends and proceeded to imitate and emulate their styles ... from Johnny Cash to Jimmy Hendrix, Bo Diddley to Eddie Van Halen. The crowd ate it up ... with even more shots of whiskey!

All in all, the Dempsey's performance was like a two minute drill to a 20th Century music appreciation class -- an anthology of beats, riffs, rhythms and licks. These hepsters rumbled, pell-mell through the anyone and everyone of rock-n-roll, country, blues, swing, surf or turf. This is Your Hit Parade on a coke infused stupor, leaving an adorning crowd with only the best of side effects!

Don McLean recalls of the day the music died om "American Pie." The Dempseys are exclaiming ... "Not if we can help it, Don!" Rock on, Dempseys and hurry back to the Rock before the levy dries out again!!! -- Mark the Hooper

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