Mention Honey Grove to anybody and they would probably think that you were referring to the sticky, sweet substance that you might occasionally spread on your toast in the morning. And they may be right.
Nevertheless, it’s the place in the Lone Star state, discovered by Davy Crockett, that bills itself as “The sweetest town in Texas” and also where a young Tyler Bryant seemingly honed his own tasty and sweet musical licks.
In fact, Tyler Bryant And The Shakedown has been creating quite a buzz with their cocksure, strutting grungy styled rock. A sound most definitely suited to the intimate, sweaty surroundings of clubs such as tonight’s packed-out Dingwalls.
Currently promoting their self-titled second album, at this their final show before Christmas, there is a crackling atmosphere being generated by the audience as the band hit the stage. With a bottle of wine to hand, Bryant then swaggered towards the mic to let rip on “Backfire” to get the party started.
That infectious youthful swagger, that the band possess in spades, continued as Bryant dazzled, spitting out hot licks from his Fender Strat, particularly on “Downtown Tonight” which caused a flurry of devil horn salutes from the band’s avid following. In fact, Bryant remarked that here in the UK they are gaining the exposure currently denied to them in the USA – more about which later – as a grinding “Criminal Imagination” bled out of the speakers.
As the band raced through a set of crowd-pleasing songs, it became obvious that the connection between the band and their fans is tighter than Ebenezer Scrooge’s wallet. Bryant wondered into the front punter area and played wild solo’s amongst his fans, as Caleb Crosby stood upon his drum kit to occasionally launch himself to the front of the stage to dispense his sticks to the lucky hands.
Thereon, announcing how he discovered the blues when working in a music store for a benevolent proprietor who played him Muddy Waters, Bryant and Whitford revved up their joint guitars to unleash a grinding “Got My Mojo Working” that shook the floor of this venerable venue.
Nonetheless, what really caught the eye and ear was a shimmering dobro slide blues spot on “Lipstick Wonder Woman”. Anchored down by Noah Denney’s pulsing bass line, Bryant’s infectious and nimble slide earworms into the listeners head as this rambling tale clatters along like an unoiled whisky cart down a Tennessee dirt track.
A heartfelt encore of Tom Petty’s “You Wreck Me” brought up the nub of possibly why American radio has not picked up on this band as yet. There are many similarities between The Shakedown and early Petty and The Heartbreakers. If Bryant and his boys can magic up the killer riffs and catchy melodies, also bring a brighter, less grungy guitar sound in the mix, then with their undoubted talent, and connections, they will soon be playing arenas after packing out the clubs. Surely, this is the challenge that they can rise to?
Photos: Eric Duvet / Words: Paul Davies
Event Date: 05-Dec-2017