One thing I have noticed at this year’s NXNE is there is a lack of lines for most of the venues. Not to say they aren’t busy on the inside but there has been almost no giant lines outside with a hundred eager people wondering if they will get in or not. I was drawn to the Horseshoe because there was a semi-notable band playing, or more so the bands namesake caught my attention. The band plays blues based country rock, the type of music you imagine to be played at a late 1950’s high school hop, like the band in Back To The Future.
What really stood out about this band was the fact that all four of the band members were exceptional musicians. The bass player played complicated riffs in interesting time signatures. The drummer was adaptable but didn’t try to steal the show (even if he had the most personality). The guitarist was so versatile it sounded like a different player on every song; he switched between straight up blues, to country-fried rock, to boogie woogie, to rockabilly and more. Almost every song he had a crazy guitar solo that didn’t seem over indulgent, as it was always unique and you wondered what he would paly next. All this combined with Devin Cuddy’s keyboard playing and lead vocals pair great together. Cuddy’s vocals were also malleable as he took his cues from such great singers like Robbie Robertson and Ronnie Van Zant and less so his famous father (even if he looks just like him at a young age).
The great thing about music like this, is it is impossible to not dance to. You could be the biggest square (or awkward dude who dances worse than Carlton) but certain beats just encourage you to toe tap and bob your head and before you know it you’re letting loose! The band played a New Orleans styled song called Ode to a Gypsie’s Daughter, which sounded like Dr. John could have recorded it in his Night Tripper days. Later in the set the band does what Cuddy calls his “best Randy Newman impression” called My Son’s a Queer about loving your child no matter what.
Towards the end of the set Cuddy encouraged us to clap for our favourite Devin Cuddy Band member and they keep a tally of who gets the most love. All three backing members got a similar amount of applause, except for the drummer who had one guy scream and shout for him (to the drummers insistence by picking him out in the crowd). This is a band that will be around for a while considering their connections, and hopefully they can organically grow a large fan base, which they clearly deserve.