In 1994, we were unable to, legitimately or not, get into see the Johnny Cash show at SXSW, so we walked across the street to another bar to drown our sorrows, and, as fate would have it, the Grievous Angels were playing. We were instantly hooked on their country-inflected rock hybrid. Big, fuzzy, indie rock guitars filtered through an unashamed love of Gram Parsons and the Man in Black.
When the Angels got locked in, they could create one of the most rapturous dins ever. Guitarist Dandy Dan Henzerling and pedal steel player Jon Rauhouse (the mad genius of the steel who has gone on to record with Kelly Hogan, Sally Timms, Calexico, and Neko Case) locked into perfect sync, feeding off each other, anchored by bassist Mickey Ferrell and drummer Jesse Navarro and Earl C Whitehead out front, with his jittery, adenodial vocals and acoustic guitar.
They quickly became mainstays of our early showcases and parties at CMJ, SXSW and Chicago quickly embraced them as one of their own (they seemed so EXOTIC coming from so far away...)
As their acoustic alter-egos the Inbreds, they could also whip out some of the best back porch bluegrass you'll ever hear.
Sadly, the band broke up in 2000 due to overall lack of interest on the part of the music buying public. Yet the Eagles continues to make a living -- there is no justice.
Back in their day, no one knew what to call what the Grievous Angels were doing, how to write about it, and, horror of horrors, where to file it in the record store, college radio station library or indie fanzine reviews. The perils of the pigeonhole. The perils of creating music that won't fit neatly into distinct categories. The perils of being a wee bit ahead of the times.