Local Country/Western band Mack West celebrates the release of its self-titled debut CD this Sunday at the Northside Tavern. The show — featuring an opening set from Bill Alletzhauser of The Hiders — starts at 8 p.m. Admission is $5, or $10 if you want a CD with your cover charge.
Calling Mack West a “Country band” can be a little misleading, at least if you subscribe to the contemporary commercial definition. Mack West sounds nothing like Sugarland or Kenny Chesney. While certainly possessing roots in more traditional Country, the band also isn’t your run-of-the-mill Johnny Cash-rewriters. The band calls its sound “Alt-Western,” referring to its unique sonics, which capture a Western/Southwestern vibe and haunting ambiance. The dusky, atmospheric approach has as much (if not more) in common with Western soundtrack composer Ennio Morricone and Arizona’s Southwestern Country music specialists Calexico as they do Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson.
Frontman Zach Mechlem’s low croon (somewhere between Johnny Cash and Indie band The National’s singer Matt Berninger) delivers time-period lyrics about cowboys, outlaws and gunslingers, but not in a Disneyland-esque way, digging deeper into the psyche of the characters. A slew of local guests help the rhythm section of Greg Slone (drums) and Will Campbell (bass) concoct the big-sky, aural scenery. Like Morricone, these songs instantly conjure cinematic imagery and pay tribute to the Old West without resorting to tired clichés.
More Local Notes
• Acoustic Rock singer/songwriter Donnie Witt releases his latest album, Outsider, Saturday at the Madison Theater in Covington. The album — on which Witt plays all of the instruments — features 11 original songs, two spoken-word pieces and a couple of covers by Tom Petty and Daniel Johnston. Hat Trick Darling, Jim Shields and Brandon Rubinoff open the 9 p.m. show. (myspace.com/donniewitt)
• Six-piece Rock band Talken Tunges celebrates its new release, On the Edge, this Friday at the Southgate House’s Parlour. The band — which features former members of the local ’80s group, Mixed Breed — is joined by Poke for the 9 p.m. show.
• A few local events are going down this weekend to honor the 40th anniversary of Woodstock (hopefully minus the mud and naked hippies). Saturday at the Riverstar Sports and Entertainment Complex, several “back in the day” bands team up for the “Summer of Love Three” festival. The 7 p.m. show features reunions of bands like Sacred Mushroom, Chillingworth, Haymarket Riot and Balderdash. Also making a rare appearance: Bill Bartlett, who garnered national attention as a member of The Lemon Pipers and also as the voice behind Ram Jam’s Rock classic, “Black Betty.” For full info, go to www.summeroflovethree.com.
• Meanwhile, a handful of young whippersnappers join forces at the Rohs Street Café in University Heights Saturday for “Rohsstock.” The show — a benefit for The Women’s Connection (www.thewomensconnection.org) — features local bands and solo performers, each performing one tune from the original Woodstock fest alongside their originals. The lineup includes Ryan Adcock, Mike Fair & the Adventure Seekers, Greg Mahan, Brian Ewing, the Beau Alquizola Band, Chris Collier, Uncle Smoking Joe & the Solid Pack and more. Showtime is 7 p.m.; admission is $5.
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