Album Review: "Live From Antone's"

Maria Mesa’s Record Review: "Live From Antone's"
February 2006

“When I was very young, my Mom used to take me to the Armadillo. Yeah, THAT Armadillo. I don’t remember a whole lot, but the music in general was a lot like this. It was this funky mishmash of country, blues, rock and gospel. It was feel-good music played by people who felt good playing it, and everyone felt good hearing it. The years went by and that’s the sound Austin became known for. It’s country that doesn’t fit the Nashville plan, and it’s the tradition Austin City Limits has tried to maintain. I guess it’s “Americana” or “Roots music,” but whatever you want to call it, it definitely is Austin. The important thing is that it draws from all kinds of influences both black and white, and draws everyone together. It’s as hippie friendly as it is cowboy friendly, and the kids and grandparents will be there too.

This music just says come on in, grab a cold one, the BBQ’s over there. You can dance or sit down and tap your toes, we don’t care- just glad you’re here. That’s the feel I think Shawn Nelson and the Ramblers are trying to create here. Listening to this CD, I can imagine them in just about any honky tonk where the beer is cold and everyone’s glad to be off work.

Shawn Nelson was born in Houston, and lived in Austin while attending UT. Afterwards he moved to Nashville to work for a music publishing company, but decided to move back to Austin to pursue his own career. After a few other projects, he teamed up with the Ramblers and became the chief songwriter and front man. Aside from strumming the acoustic guitar, Shawn adds mandolin for a bluegrass feel.

Lead guitarist Joe Faulhaber is without a doubt a very good guitar player. His leads sizzle on just about every track here. Although I’d probably be into it 100% if I saw him in person, some of his solos come off a bit long winded for this recording- particularly on “The Difference.” Louis Landry adds plenty of soul with his R&B and gospel tinged Hammond B3 organ, and high backing vocals. Bassist Shaun Dickerson stands out to me as bass players go. Supplying smart walking blues basslines that accentuate the melody and make you want to move is his specialty. His tone is warm, well compressed and ever present in the mix. And anytime you have a drummer with a name like Mooke, you know it’s gonna be good, right?”

- Maria Mesa | Music Reviewer | Austin Daze | Atown Records