Austin, Texas’ The Nightowls were in Dallas Friday night to celebrate the release of their new album We Are The Nightowls. The 10-piece band offers a delightful mix of R&B, soul, and funk that’s fused into a downright party vibe. Sadly, the three-piece horn section, three vocalists, a drummer, bassist, and guitarist were in tow last night to throw down for the most boring crowd imaginable at uptown’s The Rustic. The crowd was a mix of young and old, parents with toddlers, and those on hand to celebrate birthdays and job promotions. That’s to say, none of them appeared to be there to see the Nightowls, rather the Nightowls just happened to being playing while people were eating over-priced “craft” hamburgers and taking selfies. While the Rustic has a first-class stage and sound system, the crowd outside was seated in the rows of picnic tables aligned perpendicular to the stage. And they appeared to be there a good hour or more before the band hit the stage, like they likely are on any given Friday. But, no one got up and danced. They did applaud between songs and seemed to enjoy the set, but this was music for celebration – not obligatory “hey, these guys are okay” kind of shit.
The Nightowls are an excellent band. The musicians are skilled, the singers are smooth and sultry, and it all comes together with a touch of throwback R&B and a dash of new-school energy. Indeed, while the vocalists and horn section are at the front of the stage dancing and performing, the guitarist, bassist, and drummer behind them effortlessly tie it altogether with fluid rhythms and solid chops. Rob Alton (bass) and Justin Hights (drums) are a rhythm section to be reckoned with and Rydog Johnson (guitar) has some serious licks that either subtly float within the rhythm or soar at just the right moment during the occasional solo. The vocalists, Ryan Harkrider, Sara Stein, and Kamilla Lamar are pitch perfect and on Friday night were having more fun than the crowd. Together the vocalists and horn section of Andrew McLemore (sax), Luke Scallan (trumpet), and Zol Waterhouse (trombone) danced in unison with the singers when they weren’t pumping the rhythm forward.
I would love to see the Nightowls play a music venue, not a restaurant/bar that has live music as a background to lifestyle catering. They’re just too damn good for such a lame-ass crowd. The band has earned critical acclaim in Austin and it’s obvious that they’re only trending upward. We highly recommend you check out their new album. You’ll have it playing at parties where guests will undoubtedly ask, “Who are these guys?” Turn them on to the Nightowls. They’ll thank you for it.
– J. Kevin Lynch (words); Corey Smith (photos)
– click to enlarge photos-