If the British Invasion crash landed in the deep South
It all started as one’s man obsession with the weirdest band ever.Like any obsessed person, William Tonks tried to convert everyone he knew into liking NRBQ, a band, Tonks said, that sometimes sounds like the Beatles, sometimes like Carl Perkins and sometimes like Thelonious Monk.Todd Nance of Wide Spread Panic was one of the people who Tonks convinced NRBQ’s worth. Thinking it might be fun to learn some new songs, Tonks and Nance hooked up with Jon Mills of Redneck Greece, John Neff of Star Rom Boys – both equally obsessed – and Paul “Crumpy” Edwards of Bloodkin to jam.”We did this never thinking we’d do more than just play a show, if that,” Tonks said. “It was just an excuse to drink beer and learn some music.”That was seven years ago. Barbara Cue now writes original songs and is about to release its third CD, “Rhythm Oil.”
“Everybody has written music for this record,” Tonks said. “And we’re really proud of that. Everybody has a hand in it.”Barbara Cue is one of those bands that is hard to fit into one category. Tonks (guitar and dobro) describes it best: “It sounds like if the British Invasion crash landed in the deep South.”We’ll do kind of a countryish number with a dobro, and then we’ll put a lot of oohs and a pretty pop chorus with it. Or conversely, we’ll take a pretty pop straight ahead song and extend the guitar solos out like the Allman Brothers would,” Tonks said.All members creatively contribute to the music of Barbara Cue. Nance on drums has blossomed as a songwriter, Tonks said. “He’s found this whole strength, and he’s got a great lyrical style. His words are really musical, and he’s got a beautiful voice,” Tonks said. “He’s Panic’s little secret weapon. Every once in a while they let Todd sing, and hey, the mountains move.”
All Tonks’ gushing might be because Nance breaks the mold of most drummers and likes guitar solos. As a rule, drummers hate when a guitarist jumps off the deep end in musical one-upmanship. But not Nance.”Todd’s like, if you guys are cookin’ keep going,” Tonks said.Mills plays bass, Neff plays guitar and pedal steel – which adds a lot of the country to the band’s repertoire – and Edwards plays on bass and guitar.”Crumpy’s always been the No. 1 bass player in Athens (Ga.) He plays faster and more aggressively than anybody ever saw. Except that he’s a pretty relaxed hard-charger,” Tonks said.The seasoned musicians perform their next to last show of the tour tonight. So guests at State Bridge can expect to hear them hit their stride.
Mixed up musicBarbara CueToday, 7 p.m.State Bridge Lodge in Bond