Country Fried

House of Blues

May 12, 2005

They seemed nervous at first. Were they out of their element? Here they were at the House of Blues opening up for Junior Brown. The fact that they were playing to an empty dancefloor at a large club probably had something to do with it. The local acoustic Country quartet that calls the Kingpin bar its home eventually loosened up. They started joking with each other between songs, and this lighthearted attitude made it seem like they didn't take themselves too seriously, even when they were singing about sad subjects. The band was acoustic guitarist Whiskey T, acoustic guitarist Taylor "Red Stick" Garrett, vocalist Brian "Big Country" Ayres, and upright bassist "Bourbon" Brad Klamer.

Country Fried, which won the 2005 Offbeat Best Emerging Country/Folk Group award, played front-porch, old school Country music with harmonies and harmonica. It would go well with a depressed night of drinking. The weighty and fat guitar and bass lines in "Louisicano" were reminiscent of Johnny Cash. The railroad ramblin' guitar in the song about a man running from the law into Mexico sounded trouble-seeking.

We're so used to overstimulation that a listener may not be overwhelmed by Country Fried. It's hard to not look for more in their music, but the listener doesn't need it. It would be easy to write their songs off as elementary, but they're just subtle. You have to listen for the accomplished way in which "Big Country" rattles his shaker or how their harmonies hook up perfectly, but darn it if they don't play catchy, well-formed songs.
The songs were about drinking, bar fights, and love--more about drinking and the common sensualities of life.

Some of Country Fried's songs were fast, but most rolled at a medium pace. They were enjoyable and rocking in a subtle way. Their speed wasn't reminiscent of rock, but their attitude was. They had a rebelious glimmer in their eyes, like they might not be out of place opening for Steve Earle.

They certainly had the Country look going--cowboy hats and rugged clothes. "Big Country" looked like he coulda just stepped off a tractor. And then he would say something like, "Howdy, ma'am."

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