Austin, TX is a hot bed for music. There is no denying that. If you have ever been there you can just feel the buzz on 6th Street. Deep in the heart of Texas scores of bands come and go, but an Austin band called The Reivers had a small, but fervent following. Sometimes, if you are like me and you just crave that CD you missed, you come across a record that has a lot of critical buzz many years later. The Reivers’ End of The Day has that kind of cult following. I bought this album about seven years ago or so when it finally surfaced on CD. It originally was released in 1989. I was much too busy with my R.E.M., U2 and Grunge fare of the day to have found this gem.
Austin has a nice cache of bands that either started there or have called it home at one time or another. You’re going to get a Blues and Southern Rock type sound from that zip code more often than not, but the names are still impressive even if Blues Rock is not your thing. The Reivers have more in common with Fairport Convention than Stevie Ray Vaughan, but you might recognize acts like The Arc Angels, Charlie Sexton, Commander Cody & The Lost Planet Airmen, Eric Johnson, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, The Meat Puppets, Poi Dog Pondering, Roky Erickson, Shawn Colvin, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, The Butthole Surfers, Blue October, Omar & The Howlers, The Recliners, Robert Earl Keen and Spoon. But it’s really not about the acts you know; it’s more about the constant spirit of the bands that never get signed.
I went down to Austin for a trade show in 1998 or 1999 and made a beeline for 6th Street after my duties were taken care of for the day. I couldn’t find one co-worker willing to make the trip with me and it couldn’t have been more than a cab ride to get there as I recall. I wasn’t going to Austin and pass up a chance to sample the local wares. No way. I remember trolling from bar to bar and standing outside the door to listen to the band for a minute before I went in. I settled on a place where I heard a great solo coming from inside the bar. The place was nearly empty as I recall, but I got to see a guy named Matt Powell pushing new CD The Money & The Grass. He was selling them out of a suitcase between sets so I’m pretty sure he was unsigned. I’m looking at the CD I bought from him and it was released in 1998 by MIA Records. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that I was thoroughly entertained and that this guy had a lot of talent. I just Googled him to see what he’s been up to and it seems he’s still down there dominating the free world. Good for him. I loved his CD, but my musical thirst marched on without knowing what became of him. I shook his hand, told him how much I enjoyed his show, bought his CD and off I went. That, to me, is one awesome outing. I helped out a struggling artist and saw a great show in a small venue (sorry, no recall there) in a great city and lived to tell about it.
The Reivers were one of those unknown Indie bands back in 1984 when they were known as Zeitgeist. Luckily they were forced to change their name and chose to name their band after a 1962 William Faulkner novel. The book was made into a movie in 1969 starring Steve McQueen. Of course, I didn’t know any of this prior to buying the CD, not because I’m completely illiterate or clueless when it comes to literary giants like Faulkner (even if that it is true); it was more of a function of that stuff happening before my tenth birthday. I’m still clueless when it comes to movies. I like going to the actual cinema as much as the next person, but I look at that $12 ticket and $15 worth of popcorn, candy and soda as two CDs. I just watched Spinal Tap again last night and laughed out loud again. I guess that is about my speed. Maybe I’ll meet someone who knows movies like I know music and the synergy will be exxxcellent, but I’m never going to be much of a movie expert I’m afraid.
I don’t own all of the four records released by The Reivers, but I will. They were comprised of vocalist, songwriter and guitarist John Croslin, bassist Cindy Toth, vocalist and guitarist Kim Longacre and Garrett Williams on drums. They made popular folkish music with a touch of rock and Indie credibility to it. They had stellar harmonies and yet nobody really has ever heard of them. Their story is so typical, yet they are so far under the radar I can’t name a single person I know who knows them. How sad it that? I’m listening to them as I type and I’m trying to figure out who they sound like. I know I mentioned Fairport Convention earlier, but I don’t know if it’s fair to compare Kim Longacre with Sandy Denny. It’s just that she has a great voice and I love her sound. John Croslin’s voice kind of reminds me of Australian rocker Dave Faulkner (there’s some irony no?…Meet The Faulkners) of Hoodoo Gurus fame on those rare occasions when he sings without those beautiful crunching electric guitars. I still love those guys to this day.
By the way, End of The Day is one of those records where you can’t necessarily pick a favorite. It’s not because it is blow away great either; it’s because it’s so solidly even. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that “Almost Home” from this record was covered by countrified soft rockers Hootie & The Blowfish according to our friends at Wikipedia. I have to laugh out loud when I think about Hootie. I’m always a bit ahead of the curve and buy stuff on somebody’s say so, an early review or because some girl I dated like the record, but Hootie’s Cracked Rear View can be found on some shelf in my collection with considerable dust on it. You can bet I’d love to have Darius Rucker’s money though. I just didn’t know I’d be subjected to listening to that CD so many times in so many public places. And unfortunately, it’s not the only one…I think I saw John Mayer’s Room For Squares the other day too. Ouch. At the end of the day…god I say that way too much…End of The Day is one of those massive sleepers that leave you wondering why nobody bought their records and why this band could only survive six or seven years before packing it in around 1991. I hope they are proud regardless. An awful lot of people loved this record.
Buy or download End of The Day from Amazon here.