Austin-based roots rockers, The Band of Heathens, may be the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band you’ve yet to discover. On Friday, November 10, 2023, Utahns will get that opportunity at The State Room.
As a purely independent touring group who refused to sign on to corporate record labels, The Band of Heathens (BoH) self-manage, promote, and record their music. The result is an organic, mid-tempo, roots rock ‘n’ roll sound accented with a little Austin honky-tonk attitude.
No one in a gray business suit tells them what or how to play it. They sell their music and develop their ever-growing fan base the old-fashioned way—by hitting the road, playing a great live show, and gathering loyal followers one performance at a time.
I am one such convert (a Heathen in more ways than one.) In 2013, I stumbled into The State Room and caught my first BoH show. It wouldn’t be my last. I’ve also discovered a treasure trove of new “classic rock” music from their nine full-length album catalog to go along with four additional live records.
Formed in Austin in 2006, the BoH featured two lead singers and principal songwriters, Gordy Quist and Ed Jurdi. Their first record Live From Momo’s established them as a tour de force on the Austin music scene. Their first studio album in 2008, the self-titled The Band of Heathens was recorded under their own BoH Record label. The album produced the timeless Americana gems “Jackson Station,” and “Nine Steps Down.” One Foot in the Ether followed in 2009 with the BoH signature tune “LA County Blues.” They transformed Gillian Welch’s “Look at Miss Ohio” into a driving, soulful rock masterpiece. In concert, it becomes a roof-raising jam.
If I dare pick a favorite record it’s Top Hat Crown & The Clapmaster’s Son. My Heathen baptism came when they toured in support of that album. It’s bluesy, funky, rock ‘n’ roll at its finest. The certified gold “Hurricane” (which was recently certified gold, even without access to mass-market commercial radio) is a stand-out number along with “Medicine Man,” and “Should Have Known.”
When the pandemic hit and the world shut down, the BoH made the best of a bad situation. Unable to tour, which is how they make a living, they created a live-streaming variety show called Tuesday Night Supper Club. Isolated and scattered across the country, the band members adopted a Zoom-type format to make the show work. My wife and I tuned in every Tuesday night until the world began to open back up again. A pretty low-budget affair at first, the show steadily got better as the pandemic wore on and the band mastered the technology. Quist and Jurdi alternated playing each other’s songs from their home studios or music rooms. Bass player, Jesse Wilson, mixed a fancy cocktail in his living room in another segment. Okay, the show wasn’t going to win an Emmy, but we loved it. A segment called Remote Transmission featured guest artists, also isolated, joining the band performing a cover song, creatively edited by Jesse Wilson. My favorite was their cover of Lucinda Williams’ “Joy” featuring Margo Price.
With the pandemic in the rearview mirror, they took a selection of those weekly cover songs and released a full-length album Remote Transmission, Vol. 1. (I’m hoping for a Vol. 2 soon.)
The band is touring in support of a brand new record, Simple Things, a self-produced album recorded in the band’s studio in Austin. Quist and Jurdi penned a beautiful 10-song treatise about embracing life’s simple things following a difficult few years. The record starts with an up-tempo, soulful rocker, “Don’t Let The Darkness,” about not dragging old baggage into the present. With “Heartless Year” they acknowledge the trauma and loss, but also celebrate coming through it. “I Got The Time,” rocks like a Stones deep cut circa ‘72. I expect the BoH will fill their November 10th setlist with their new material alongside a selection of their classics.
Bay area singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alex Jordan will open the evening. Jordan’s musical adventure began after college when he hit the road with a Grateful Dead tribute band and shared the stage with legends Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. As a solo artist, his music still embraces the California alt-country sound. He released his debut album The Subtle Exhibitionist in 2020. Unable to tour in support of the record, he went to work writing new material. His latest single “Queen Kerosene” just dropped. A full-length album will follow in early 2024. The State Room patrons will undoubtedly get a taste of what’s to come.
Fans of The Eagles, Rolling Stones, The Band, Hayes Carll, Reckless Kelly, The Black Crowes, Jason Isbell, or Turnpike Troubadours will want to check out this show and the BoH catalog.
Who: The Band of Heathens
What: Simple Things Tour
Where: The State Room
When: Friday, November 10, 2023