Dish, Lauris Vidal & His Warm Guns
Will’s Pub, Orlando, Fl • February 5, 2009
Bundled up in an over-sized parka and sporting a bowler hat that had weathered a storm or two, Paleface slipped into Will’s Pub — with his petite drummer Mo Samalot at his side — to settle in for a pair of local openers, and to escape the oddly frigid Florida night air.
“We decided to do a Florida tour and get some sun,” he told the audience later on, with a chuckle, in reference to the twenty-degree weather outside.
The night of music started late — later than it should have, really — with Lauris Vidal and His Warms Guns taking the stage at 10:30pm. Vidal was a brightly lit sparkplug of a man, wielding a banjo, a slide guitar, and a smile that stretched for miles. The music he and His Warm Guns made was sometimes folky, sometimes Buddy Holly & the Crickets’ brand of early rockabilly, and sometimes countrified, but always optimistic in nature. He’s a warm personality, that Lauris Vidal, and it comes through in his music.
“Sometimes it just feels so great to be up here!” he exclaimed after one particularly energetic moment.
After his own set, Vidal joined the brotherly duo of Roberto and Nathaniel Aguilar who together call themselves Dish. The band took an achingly long time to set up, time ticking away as half a dozen guitars were sound-checked and buckets, pipes, and various knick knacks were attached within reach of the drum kit.
How necessary all of these accoutrement really were to the plugged in folk ROCK that the band delivered is a matter for debate. Though the band caught my ear, and got the room dancing up a storm, I maintain that they had too much shit onstage. They could have achieved the same level of performance with half as many drum bits and without changing guitars after each song. Their compositions would have easily held up. They’re a good band, but they could use some excess strippin’.
A mercifully quick set change brought Paleface and Mo onto the stage as the midnight hour came and went. With few bodies left in the room, the man who has been cited as a major influence by both Beck and Kimya Dawson, and who calls Daniel Johnston and Langhorne Slim friends, started a set without so much as a basic introduction. For those still playing pool in the other room, or hovering over a beer at the back bar, there was no invitation to join the anti-folk master at the stage. You either came or you didn’t, it made no difference to Paleface and Mo. The pair had come to play, and whether for a crowd of two or two hundred, they would do just that.
Playing folk music in its simplest form, with Paleface strapped into an acoustic guitar with a harmonica braced in place around his neck and Mo seated pretty behind the world’s tiniest drum kit, the pair who currently call North Carolina home shined a rare beam of sincerity in a music world bogged down by false glitz and glamour. Songs from Paleface’s seventeen years of recording music were squeezed in between songs I’ve already grown to love off the upcoming Ramseur Records release, The Show Is On The Road.
“Stick around for Paleface,” Dish’s vocalist/guitarist Roberto Aguilar had earlier instructed, “It’ll be the last time you see him in such a small place.”
In a fair world, artists like Paleface would be selling out venues twice the size of Will’s Pub. Until that day comes, we should all feel so privileged to be able to get up so close and personal to a musician who can turn the air in the room blue by simply opening his mouth. His words are gorgeous and bloody with heartache, and the effortless way in which he holds a roomful of folks captivated is a beautiful thing.
To see more photos of this show, and others, go to www.jencray.com.