LEVITT FREE CONCERT SERIES PRESENTS
R.L. & HIS ANGELS
Barefoot, sleeveless and sweaty, Whiskey Shivers frontman and fiddle master Bobby Fitzgerald never stops smiling on stage. "All right! Let’s kick this thing in the face!” he barks, as the band tears into their stringed instruments at breakneck speed.
It's almost impossible to watch him perform more than a song or two without cracking a smile yourself. His exuberance is contagious, and it bleeds through into the music. Whether they're playing at a backyard house party in Texas, a punk-rock dive bar or a sprawling country music festival, crowds take notice. People put down their phones, pick up their drinks and start dancing.
“Whiskey Shivers isn't just the five of us on stage, it’s everybody in the room," Fitzgerald says. "We try to bring everybody into the moment and get them to realize there's no wall between us and the crowd. We're all in this together, and we're all here to have a good time. We'll do our best to facilitate it, but it takes all of us to make it happen. When you start to feel that, you can't help but feel a little attachment and become invested in the show. You realize, 'Oh, I'm here to have good time too!’”
Despite their joyful demeanor, the guys in Whiskey Shivers aren't pretending that life is always easy. Far from it, Fitzgerald explains. Their new self-titled album, produced by fellow roots music boundary-pusher Robert Ellis, is heavy with traditional bluegrass themes and imagery lamenting universal struggles - work, pain, sin, regret and death.
It's in the contrast where Whiskey Shivers' music shines. They infuse their songs with punk rock energy and a darkly comical light-heartedness, stretching the bluegrass genre to fit whatever they feel is right. For them, being happy is a conscious choice, and making fun of life's struggles is part of their philosophy.
"We're all going through shit all the time. We recognize that life's tough," Fitzgerald says. "We try to write songs that recognize the hard times that we all share. When you put your problems out on the table where everyone can see them, it doesn't really have the same power over you any more, and you can start to acknowledge it, separate yourself from it, and go on with your life. Try to take a night where you can forget about your problems and just feel good, have a good time with your friends, make new friends, and be part of a little community for a while."
That sort of musical honesty is what brought together the ragtag group of string players from small towns around the country to Austin, TX, where Whiskey Shivers was formed when stand-up bassist Andrew VanVoorhees answered a dubious Craigslist ad from a man named "Bob" looking to form a bluegrass band.
The full lineup now consists of Bobby Fitzgerald (vocals, fiddle) from Dundee, NY, Andrew VanVoorhees (bass, vocals) from Prineville, OR, Joe Deuce (washboards) from Vider, TX, Jeff “Horti” Hortillosa (vocals, guitar) from Middlesboro, KY, and James Bookert (banjo) from Georgetown, TX.
Fitzgerald admits that it can sometimes seem impossible to maintain such a high level of energy night after night on the road. “Well, it can seem that way, up until the moment the show starts,” he says. “We could have a really tough day, driving through bad weather on no sleep, feeling like shit, the sound is terrible, or whatever else is going on that day. And then as soon as we start playing, it all just kind of falls away. All of the sudden we’re having a good time again, and the momentum carries itself. That's why we're doing this, because we love it.”
Garrett Lebeau is a member of the Shoshone tribe, born and raised on the Wind River Indian Reservation near Lander, Wyoming.
His music draws instant comparisons to Boz Scaggs, Al Green or Van Morrison vocally with a sound that is completely and genuinely his own.
Garrett Lebeau heard very little music growing up. The Wind River Reservation is remote and isolated. Garrett was raised in an apocalyptic religious cult, one that keeps its members shunning the outside world. As a result, Garrett led a life sequestered from other people. Those experiences left their mark on his music.
On the Reservation, there was so much wide open space, and that, combined with his unorthodox upbringing, is abundant in Garrett's music. He gives his music space to breathe and develop. Garrett's music is at one moment gritty, then tender the next. He expresses a full range of emotions with his lyrics and music.
Garrett is a self-taught musician who did not start playing the guitar until he was an adult. For Garrett, the process of learning to play was a slow one. He taught himself the notes and chords and then began writing songs. He is an accomplished songwriter and because he is not fettered by traditional music theory, his guitar playing is unique.
Garrett's first record, Rise to the Grind, was well received and reviewed and Garrett has just completed his second record, Gone So Long.
Garrett enjoys playing live and prides himself on his ability to put on a show for the audience, as opposed to simply playing music. Garrett tours around the U.S. with his band and they have been privileged to share the stage with Mavis Staples, Boz Scaggs, Trombone Shorty, Joe Ely and others.
Garrett Lebeau's words and music ranges from gritty to tender to funky-- genuine songs that are completely his own and draws instant vocal comparisons to Boz Scaggs, Al Green, Van Morrison, and Aaron Neville.
Robert Louis Cole is a veteran of the stage, having performed both nationally and internationally with A. Tom Collins (Greater Than Collective), El Sinfin (Rambler Records) and now as a power-house solo performer. His first EP, "The Long Darkness of the Night" was released independently in 2013, followed by the release of a full length Folk-Blues album, "Live from Cherryvale" in 2015.
His sound and style draw heavily from early American music and push through the decades to include classic vocal stylings; intertwining Delta blues and Appalachian folk with a dark Southern Gothic influence- "[t]he songwriter breathes a pained gravel tone into his bluesy twang, a lo-fi experience that recalls a little [Tom] Waits and Robert Johnson in places..." (French Davis, YellowScene Magazine).
While his recordings and songs have been featured on radio stations from Colorado to Alaska, in independent films, local broadcast television and commercials, his highly-compelling, from-the-hip-aggressive shows and performances leave crowds stunned. "[One] of the absolute greatest musicians that I have ever seen!" (Kyle Pogue, KRFC 88.9 FM). He is equally comfortable singing and playing in honky-tonks and dive bars, city museums and country festivals.
Nominated for Best of Blues Denver 2015 by Westword publication. Recent works include a body of songs written for the Denver Art Museum's Untitled Program, pairing his writing styles with the vivid paintings of world-famous Native American painter Fritz Sholder.
Robert has shared the stage with the likes of Alabama Shakes, Junior Brown, Nathaniel Rateliff, Th' Legendary Shack Shakers, Esme Patterson and Paper Bird,Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Soul Man Sam, The SubDudes, MarchForth, Possessed by Paul James (Konrad Wert), Charlie Parr, as well as many others.
For fans of Early American music, Robert Johnson, Tom Waits, Son House, 16 Horsepower, Slim Cessna, Hank III, The Handsome Family, Brown Bird, Delta Rae, Johnny Cash, J. Tillman.