It seemed the action never stopped this weekend after I decided to attend the album release party for Abraham Partridge’s solo work “White Trash Lipstick” at The Listening Room in Mobile, Alabama the morning of the performance. After a quick exchange with venue owner Jim Pennington, who fittingly describes himself as a “genuine, blue collar guy”, and artist Abraham Partridge, the wheels were set in motion for a pre-show interview and I was given the okay for photography work.
Along with Eddie Y, my technician for the evening, I arrived at the venue a half hour before show time. This was my first time back since Johnny Cole and I shot our 4th episode of The Music Scene here featuring artist Oh! Jerimiah. As I approached the Listening Room, I saw a group of people standing outside the main doors. I began rolling down my window and slowed to a stop. Abe Partridge, who was among the group and had never met me in person before, stepped up with a beaming smile and positive demeanor that I quickly came to associate with him over the course of the weekend.
“Hey man! Glade you could make it!”
He quickly pointed me out to where the rest of the band was parked and told me to take a spot among them. We got out and made official introductions. I could tell energy was high for the show that was about to take place. Abe seemed beside himself and in exceptionally good spirits. I had never seen his group live, only videos online, in which the front man played his guitar and sang as if he was preaching to an audience in need of salvation on the edge of the coming apocalypse. This level of intensity was not visible at first as we talked in the parking lot, which made the encounter all the more intriguing as I knew without doubt that there was a “building up” going on inside this guy who I was certain would leave it all on the stage by the end of the night.
I was pleasantly surprised to see on the guest list that Johnny Cole of the Southland Music Line and live-show artist Robby Amonett were in attendance. Even more of a surprise was that Amonett would be accompanying the group on bass, taking the trio to a full power house. It would mark the first time that I had ever seen Robby at a show where he wasn’t just painting (he captured the first set of Abe playing from his own solo works) but actually performing as well.
After securing a table close to the performers, I found owner Jim Pennington.
We agreed to meet out in the side parking lot and I signaled to Johnny Cole to come join us. Finding Abe still out front, we walked to the side of the Listening Room and turned on the recorder. In the course of our five minute discussion, we learned more about Abraham Partridge and The Psychedelic Peacocks, his solo release, and their connection with the Listening Room. Jim Pennington praised Abe for his genuine, raw song-writing abilities and Johnny Cole concurred, adding to the importance of what the Jim has been doing in his short time there at the Listening Room, providing a unique environment for upcoming artists like Partridge as well as seasoned musicians.
The venue was nearly filled and people began standing in the back and taking chairs up to the sides of the performance space to watch. In between, Partridge would take a swig from his gallon jug of water and talked about his times of being a preacher (which almost becomes self-evident from his performances) and the conflicts it brought with loving rock and roll and enjoying the wilder sides of life. Things took a softer turn as Abe began show casing slower, more subdued songs that by no means displayed any lack of restraint in his writing abilities. Particularly powerful numbers included a love song to his wife who was in attendance and a reflection of the nature of war and the relativity of good and bad men on opposing sides that left the artist practically screaming in agony the final repeated line, “They ain’t so easily defined”.
With his band behind him, things only became more powerful. A projector positioned in front of the stage spit out an assortment of shifting deep reds, blues, greens and yellows as the band dove into heavy songs that had the group pushing their sound out into the streets. Guitarist Dave Garrett, who travels all the way from Birmingham, Alabama just to play with the band, showed why the long drives are worth it. His tone and vicious attacks make for a key element in the Peacocks sound, with his lead work present throughout with frequent ventures into explosive solos slightly soaked with delay and echoes, along with a healthy amount of reverb for good measure. Drummer TJ Scruggs, keeps along nicely despite being relatively inexperienced to percussions. I would later ask him how long he had been drumming to which he replied, “Well, the band started coming together around October, which is when they asked me to join them, so…October.”
But Scruggs isn’t the only one in new territory, which is a testament to just how interesting this night was. Here you have Partridge debuting a new album, with a musician new to the drums, with a bass player (Amonett) who just joined their forces within the last month, at a venue being praised for its dedication to such artists and their music which has only been around on the scene for a short period of time. It was all the factors that gave listeners that night a chance to experience something quite unique and equally enjoyable.
One of the best surprises of the night at The Listening Room was finding out the Julip Room would be hosting the Abe and the Peacocks the very next night in Ocean Springs. Once again, listeners would be set up to hear the group in an intimate, brick and mortar location with great sound and interesting history. Again Abe played an opening set of acoustic songs from his album “White Trash Lipstick” as bar attendees quickly became sucked in by his presence and hard edged delivery. So impacting were the songs Partridge sang, that the space took on a haunting atmosphere that hung in the air at the end of each number. Had the artist’s amplifier and vocals suddenly been completely muted, there would have been no other sound to be heard as the audience sat like curious statues in the dim light.
In between sets, Abe asked me to play a few originals to give the band a rest. I happily obliged as it had been quite some time since I had played in the Julip Room’s underground hideout. In order to keep the rock vibes going I asked drummer TJ Scruggs if he would be interested in jamming with me. He agreed and we took off into a groovy set which lasted close to twenty minutes. The band would later come back on and finish off the night with the room packed and swinging. For those of us that had made the trip to Mobile and to our current location, we agreed it made for a memorable weekend that would be talked about for months to come. If you missed out on either of these shows and want to check out Abraham Partridge, he will be playing the Twisted Anchor Tattoo Parlor on Government Street in Ocean Springs this Thursday, the 26th as part of bass player Robbie Amonett’s art work showcasing.
Sunday afternoon, I met up with The Tall Boys who were in the early stage of their first set. The air near the stage smelled of seafood and cigarettes as lead guitarist Willie fired up stick after stick to keep his spirits high as patrons sat at tables eating an endless supply of crawfish. The sound coming from the stage was excellent and I wasted no time working around the trio, setting up microphones to capture a strong performance. After I had things rolling, I relieved myself of sound engineer duties to play photographer, when I grew tired of that, I sat back in a chair under the cool shade of the massive backyard oak and took rest from my long weekend, a mixture of work and play, and listened to one of my favorite local bands.
If you’d like to know what’s coming up at The Listening Room, be sure to check their Facebook or website. Abe Partridge page here. Kristin Diable will be playing there this Wednesday at 7pm. I was told by several people over the weekend that she is a great artist with roots in blues music and is exceptionally pretty. I looked her up. It’s true. Of course you can find more of what’s coming at places like the Julip Room and The Mississippi Juke Joint by going to their sites as well. They are two of the hottest venues for music on the Gulf Coast, so be sure to keep up with them.
In other upcoming news, the Coast band is celebrating their 40th anniversary and final performance of their career on June 4th. A legendary local band that honors some of music’s greatest artists. I’ll be there helping these seasoned musicians prepare for their big night, hopefully talking about their successful careers, attending the show itself, and maybe a little jamming before or after all things are said in done. I’ve been hearing hype on this event for months and have to say I am royally stoked to see it approaching us.
Here at Coastal Noise, I’ll continue to bring you more of whatever good is happening in the industry, whether it’s podcasts, articles, or something a little out of the norm. I’ve got a lot of good stuff coming up in the weeks ahead, so stay put and be apart. Don’t forget to share your support by following us on social media and sharing with your friends. Thanks, as always!
I was particular inspired this by this weeks artists for their raw, honest performances, so I have decided to leave the pictures as they were taken without edits (excluding the black and white of Mr. Curtis and young Joe)