Tag Archives: Henry Wagons

Concert Review: Wagons / Dirt Daubers / Heelsplitter – Beachland Tavern – Cleveland, OH – 09/11/2011

Well Cleveland, I hate to say it, but you all missed out Sunday night on one hell of a show.  I am not one to usually say things like that, but Sunday night was an amazing night of music and chances are, you were not there.  For those of you who were though, I am sure you can all agree that Wagons, The Dirt Daubers, and Heelsplitter all put on a memorable show.

Sunday night was all about Americana, folk, and outlaw country inside the Beachland Tavern.  Making a triumphant return to the best little venue in Cleveland, Henry Wagons and his band Wagons traveled all the way from Melbourne, Australia making sure that Cleveland was one of their stops.  About a year ago, Henry Wagons came to the states without his band and played a solo set at the Beachland Tavern.  Later that night Wagons told me that he would bring the rest of his band back soon and play Cleveland again.  The man kept his word.

Local openers Heelsplitter wowed me instantly with their “Frankenbass”, a homemade upright bass with the body being a drum and one string bolted to neck of the instrument.  The two bearded males and cute female act played some awesome songs and had me actually question myself at one time, “are these guys really from Cleveland?”  The band reminded me of Split Lip Rayfield, a band I really adore, but did not completely rip them off.  Frankenbass, banjos, washboard, and no drums provided for a great start to the night.   I loved it when the trio all switched up their instruments and played more tunes.  I witnessed various Frankenbass playing styles  from plucking to beating the hell out of and must say, marveled at its creation.

Up next was the husband / wife act The Dirt Daubers.  Featuring JD Wilkes of the Legendary Shack Shakers, the duo, normally a threesome, admitted that they were missing their bass player and Jess would be filling in on the kick drum.  Their set was full of rockabilly, blues, country goodness and it was just two people on the stage playing the music.  Never mind the fact that Jess was dressed in quite the adorable dress, she kicked that drum all through their set in high heels as if she had done it many times prior.  Laughs were shared by the duo and crowd she Jess admitted a couple songs in that “this is fucking hard” and soon said that if she kept playing the kick drum she was going to have one Popeye leg.

JD looked like Buddy Holly in a way with his banjo and harmonicas strapped to him.  Throughout their set, they played songs from their upcoming new album titled Wake Up Sinners. I could not help but be amazed when JD would rip a harmonica out of one of the holsters attached to him and would play it.  I was more impressed when JD grabbed his washboard and showed the crowd his secret to not using a strap to secure the washboard – he stuck the legs in his front pockets.

The duo played a few more songs and covered Elvis as well as Gene Autry.  Towards the end of their set played a fast paced jam featuring a kazoo.  It was the best kazoo playing I have ever heard.

I wanted to hear more from the couple, and I think they wanted to play more, but had to kindly exit the stage and make way for the headliners.

It turned out a lot of people came to see The Dirt Daubers over Wagons and I thought for a moment some people might pick up and leave before the main act, but Jess told the crowd how amazing and fun they were the other night.  She even stated that Henry dedicated each of the seven songs on his set to each of the seven people that were in the bar the night before.  I would estimate that there were about 20 people in the tavern by the time Wagons took stage.

Opening with “Shake & Tumble” off the bands brand new release, Wagons turned the heads of anyone who was not looking at the stage.  It was not all business for the band as Henry talked to the crowd throughout songs confessing he knows “what a big deal primetime television is” and admitted that he has been powered by buttered vegetables for the last couple of days.

Henry mentioned Cracker Barrel quite a few times.  The man loves his American cuisine.  He even took a moment to ask the crowd where he could get some bacon ice cream and seemed disappointed when someone screamed back IHOP.

While playing “Save Me”, Henry left his band behind and jumped into the crowd headband and all.  Masking the best of his surroundings, he joked with the crowd how the band was probably sick of him and soon returned to his brethren and played “Never Been To Spain”.  I heard Henry play this song last year at his solo performance, but when the band backed him up this time, I was just floored with how awesome it sounded.  The band then moved into Wagons’ version of “The Gambler”, where Henry told the crowd that he wanted to be the next Kenny Rogers.

Before the band broke into “Driving Home” Henry asked for tips on getting to Chicago.  Someone mentioned toll booths and, of course, Henry found humor and asked “tall boobs?”

The rest of the band was included in discussions as well and props were given to This Way Out, the sweet shop that lies below the Beachland.  Once of the band members actually bought a shirt there prior to the show.  They did not say why, but after the show I found out he did that because he was wearing a Cincinnati Bangles shirt.  He was not trying to be crude, he seriously had no idea.  Apparently someone yelled at him before the show started.

Hoping to hear more songs by Wagons, they played more personal “Moon Into The Sun” and then closed the night with “Willie Nelson”, a track about, you guessed it…  The soon crowd was all singing along “he likes some salt and pepper with his evening meal” with the band and soon after the set came to an end.

There could have been two people or two hundred in the tavern Sunday night.  The band did not care one bit and played their hearts out to all those who attended.  The people that were lucky enough to witness that which is Wagons showed their approval throughout the entire set.  Ironically one of the guitarists told everyone that he had played a ton of shows and Cleveland was one of the best shows he ever played.  He was dead serious too.  After everything was said and done I was chatting with the band and it was either Mark or Chad that told me he was dead serious about what he said.  He loved the tavern that he just played in and was glad to have been able to do so.  They all told me they would be back again one day to rock out.  I know that is not a lie either.  I see big things coming from this Aussie outlaw county band.

Henry Wagons Checks In…

It’s no secret, Broken Headphones loves Henry Wagons and his band Wagons (two consecutive posts might hint at that…).  The guy beyond hilarious and his band dishes out some of the best outlaw country/rock I’ve heard in a long time. 

I just hammered out a review of the latest Wagons release the other day for your reading pleasure and decided I might as well touch base with Henry through the magical forces of email.  Currently Henry and his band are touring North America in support of their new release titled Rumble, Shake and Tumble.  Here’s what he had to say:

Henry, what brings you back to the states?

My global brainwashing mission is in full effect! I eventually want to take over the world with one of those swirly patterns on a TV transmission. Playing music with my band is the first step.

Were you able to bring your band along this time?

I have brought 3 stinky dudes with me.

How has the tour been so far?

It’s been great. Pretty much Seattle and Canada so far. I’m still bracing myself for the rest. I want to try as many weird burgers as I can.

I understand you flew to Toronto Monday night in a small plane with old men. How did that go?

It was a little bumpy and a little grumpy (old men).

How’s the tour been this round? Did that stupid hurricane affect you at all?

The only hurricane style event we have faced was the powerful massage shower in our Toronto hotel room.

What can someone expect to see at a Wagons show?

A lot of pent up energy expressed from many hours in the van and in airport customs queues. All the bodily fluids that are retained within our bodies from a aeroplane pressurised cabin come out on stage in the form of blood sweat and tears.

Most importantly, are you rocking the headband?

You know it.

Wagons are actually playing the Beachland Tavern this Sunday! Tickets are only $8.  As I have mentioned previously in posts, Wagons are already big deal in Australia.  8 bucks…do it!

Wagons ‘Rumble, Shake and Tumble’ USA/Canada Tour
Sep 03 | Bumbershoot Festival – Seattle
Sep 04 | Railway Club – Vancouver
Sep 06 | Horseshoe Tavern – Toronto
Sep 07 | Zaphod Beeblebrox – Ottawa
Sep 08 | Rockwood Hall – NYC
Sep 09 | Union Hall – NYC
Sep 10 | World Café Live – Philadelphia
Sep 11 | Beachland Tavern – Cleveland
Sep 13 | Hide Out – Chicago
Sep 14 | The Basement – Nashville
Sep 15 | Hangar 9 – Carbondale
Sep 16 | Off Broadway – St Louis
Sep 17 | Hi-Tone – Memphis
Sep 19 | At the Earl – Atlanta
Sep 21 | Hotel Café – LA

Album Review: Wagons – Rumble, Shake and Tumble

Henry Wagons and I met by chance one day last September.  He was an opening act for Those Darlins that night and I remember the tall Aussie armed with a headband and acoustic guitar impressed me beyond belief.  His set filled up the tavern that night with outlaw folk/country jams making me an instant fan.  After his set I learned that Henry Wagons hailed from Melbourne, Australia, and actually left his band, Wagons, back home as it was too tough to fly everyone to the states.  Even though they were a pretty big deal back home, Henry Wagons took it upon himself to spread their music to the states.  I left that night with a copy of a Wagons CD titled Rise and Fall of Goodtown, a sweet towel and new love for an Australian band.

I tried my hardest to see Wagons play at SXSW in Austin, TX, this past spring, but thanks to a botched flight, I did not get there in time.  Rumor has it, Wagons turned a bunch of heads with a memorable set in which they played new material off a new album.  Needless to say, I was bummed out that I missed my chance to see Wagons and hear some of the upcoming tunes.

Luckily for me and many other fans, Wagons dropped their fourth all new release titled Rumble, Shake and Turn on Thirty Tigers toward the end of the summer.  The album is country, it’s rock, it’s even a little cabaret and sure as hell is full of outlaw tendencies.  When listening to Wagons, you get a sense you have heard the music before not just from your father’s collection, but also from your grandfathers collection you might have been exposed to at a young age.  The band takes generations of music and blends it perfectly into their own style guaranteed to turn some heads.

Opening track “Downlow” is very Tom Petty sounding from the get go with lyrics that almost could emulate Wagons’ very own wit and charm.  “I Blew It”, a quite addicting track to listen to, immediately followed full of outlaw country styles as well as some Elvis-sounding growling within.  The music video as seen below is pretty damn amazing as well.  “Moon Into The Sun” was about as country twang as any track on the album gets with a more sensitive Wagons declaring “my life has been a fucking mess without you.”.  Wagons’ singing on this track easily brought the listener back to the days of Twitty, Williams, Jennings, Haggard, and even a starving young Cash and seemingly did not sound like he was even trying to.

The ever catchy tribute to Willie Nelson,  properly titled “Willie Nelson”, deserved multiple plays on account of how fun it was to listen to.  Comparing Nelson to other greats, I loved how Henry Wagons shifted his accent  (“Willie Nel-sun!”) in a clear comical attempt to mess with the listener yet pay a homage to a country great.  “He likes some salt and pepper with his evening meal” is repeated over and over by Wagons about his favorite musician in the country music business and as much of a tribute the song was, it was just hilarious to listen to.  I would love to know what Nelson’s reaction was about this track.

“Love Is Burning” was an unexpected track on the album that was more rock and roll than anything.  “My Daydreams” was a thoughtful track spanning around romance that easily has the ability to swoon.  Wagons’ had no problem recalling the outlaw greats throughout the track as the band backs him up.  “Save Me” was a simple upbeat tune with easy sing-a-long qualities, more of that country twang and even a little blues thrown in.  “Follow The Leader” moved along with almost a train track rhythm only to jump rail and turn psychedelic for a moment.  i did not know what to think about this song.  It definitely strayed away from the rest.  “Marylou” ended the album and at the very end, Wagons closes out the album with a sigh making me wonder how personal that track really was to Wagons.

Rumble, Shake and Tumble was a great album from start to finish full of American genres with a modest Australian twist.  Wagons and company pull off yet another impressive release that more people need to check out.  Wagons has quite the fan base back home and I am pretty sure before long, we Americans will be picking up on their talent.

Wagons is actually back on a US tour in support of the new release and will be stopping at the Beachland Tavern in Cleveland this Sunday Sept. 11th.  Tickets are only $8 and if you fathom yourself a folk/country/rock fan, you would be doing yourself a favor seeing them live.  Not only is the music good live, but Wagons himself is a pretty candid guy.  Don’t be lame.  Get up there Sunday night.

Wagons Return To Cleveland!!!

I just learned today that Melbourne, Australia’s  Wagons will be returning to the states this September!  After missing my chance to see Henry Wagons and his band at SXSW, the band announced that they will be back in the US touring in support of their soon to be released album Rumble, Shake and Tumble. They are even making a stop in Cleveland on Sept. 11th at the Beachland Tavern.

I caught Henry playing a solo last year when he opened for Those Darlins at the Beachland Tavern and I became an instant fan.  He told me later that night that he could not wait to bring the rest of his band back to the states and started telling me about all the American food he was digging.  He was a funny and genuine guy.  If you like your music a little bit of country rock a’la Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings and are just looking to be rowdy and have fun, you should not miss this show.

Check out the video for “I Blew It” off of their album that should be dropping on August 16th:

I plan on not missing this show.  Of course this will be taking place the day after Warrior Dash which I have decided to attempt…  I think I will be fine…

What the hell am I thinking??? Stay tuned for the results on that one.

Interview: Henry Wagons

Once upon a time – a couple months ago actually – I met a man. I met a big, tall, Aussie man who gave me a towel.

His name was Henry Wagons. He was the opening act at a Those Darlins show I attended and caught me completely by surprise, not just because he gave me a towel but also because he was an amazing artist.

Throughout his set he talked about his band back home, Wagons, that he had to leave behind due to the cost of traveling.

I was intrigued and wanted to hear more of this band, so after his set I grabbed myself a copy of The RIse And Fall Of Goodtown.  Henry was happy to sell me a CD and also chatted with me throughout the night. Turns out he is a big deal in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia.

Henry was a cool cool man and I should add that CD I purchased from him was amazing.

Recently, I was able to catch up with Henry and talk about him and complete randomness:

BHP: The name Henry Wagons is not that well known in the states yet but that is a different story in your homeland correct?

HW – Its true. I think I’m on the D-list back at home. My band does quite well in Australia and I’m a presenter on a TV show so I have enough of a profile to expect to get invited to celebrity filled premieres, but never actually get invited.

Tell me a little bit about yourself…

I’m a Gemini. I like to go to the movies. I’m organized but not a neat freak. I love holidays sipping pina-coladas on a hammock but rarely make it out onto the sand.

Good enough, so how did you get your start as a musician?

I started playing music quite late. I only got into playing the guitar after I finished high school. I became friends with stoner Pink Floyd fans at college, and they couldn’t really talk, so I learned some licks.

In the early days I played in a couple of noise/jam bands, then kinda wanted to try my hand at more traditional song-writing, so found my way through my Mum’s record collection and became fascinated with the likes of Johnny Cash, Tom Jones, Rod Stewart and other manly singers.

Can you give me a brief history on how your band, Wagons, was united?

I went to school with most of them. I was the only one who did my homework.

I started Wagons as a kinda throw away recording project, making a little tape of country songs in which I played all the instruments. I cut and pasted the covers together. Really lo-fi 4 track recordings. I wanted to play them live at a local open mike night at a metal/hardcore pub. I asked my mates to help me out. We got offered our first gig out of open mic night and there seems to have been enough momentum and good times since then to keep it all going. Who knew?

We all take it quite a bit more seriously now and are thankful that people still want to hear us play. I think it really helps to have humble beginnings and relatively low expectations to keep things in perspective.

Pic by Michael Christian
Pic by Michael Christian

How would you describe Wagons to someone who has never heard of them before?

Imagine if Elvis, Johnny Cash, Nick Cave, Dick Clarke, John Wayne and John Forgery all had a child together, and that child was a fat, over-excited nerd. How cool would that be! What was the question?

No idea.  Who are your major influences?

See the proud parents above.

When we spoke outside of the Beachland Tavern weeks back, you mentioned a few things that had me thinking. First off, you were talking about a Visa is needed in the states to perform?

Its true. A lot of bands slip into the country under the radar, but we did this last trip on the books. The performance visa cost us $2.5K. That’s a lotta burgers.

Luckily we are in a position to afford that kinda outlay, but I feel sorry for smaller bands wanting to play in the States for the first time, before you have too much happening at home.

You also mentioned that your homeland helps pay for performing out of country? How exactly does that work?

There is so much red tape you could bind and gag Elvis’ entire fan club.

You basically fill out forms and prove you are a real band, doing good work and, thankfully, government arts funding is there for you.

I understand you left your entire band back home because it was too expensive to fly everyone out. Did you save up for this? Will you be able to do it again, maybe with more of the band?

I definitely want to be able to bring the band over. Wagons music is made to a pretty grand scale, so it would make sense to have a beat behind it.

It is expensive to come over to the US. You can imagine the flights themselves for five band members is thousands and thousands of dollars, let alone transport, food and accommodation.

I’ve come over as an ambassador for the band, to get a feel for whether our stuff might work. I feel good about it. I think, provided I don’t cover my floors in plasma screen dancefloors we will be able to bring the rest of the boys next time.

How important is this solo tour for you?

As much as I love having the boys around, I do love playing solo. I can settle into a long and boring story on stage with a guitarist telling me to shut up.

What was it like going from big crowds in Melbourne to opening for bands like Those Darlins to smaller crowds? Did you feel you were right back where you started?

I try to give my all no matter how many people are there. I’ve felt that way since day one. When it comes down to it, I feel it’s a honor to have anyone’s attention. I’m always going to respect that by putting on a show for em.

Besides, I’m always playing Madison Square Garden when I close my eyes.

What is so different about the American lifestyle you like / hate?

The excellent junk food is a constant source of pleasure and horror. There is nothing I like better than sinking my teeth into the local junk food specialty, be it Chicago pizza, Philly cheese steak, Portland Voodoo donut etc. You guys do guilty pleasure food soooo well it kills me. Problem is, it is also killing me.

What are some of your favorites here in the states?

My favorite roadside chains are: Cracker Barrel, Chipotle, and Starbucks.

Each of these guys brought me so much joy for different reasons.

How are the accommodations during your visit?

Accommodation has been great. I has gotten to know the Day’s Inn franchise very well across the country. When I see those weather beaten white glowing signs out the front of a 70’s yellow brick motel I feel like I’m home again.

In your opinion, do you think Americans dress funny?

Ronald McDonald dresses pretty weird.

How did you get hooked up with Those Darlins? I understand the Cleveland show was the first night you played with them. Who were you performing with prior to that show?

I met Those Darlins at SXSW last year, and we were going to do a tour with them. It was all locked in…we even did a photo shoot together and were on the covers of magazines back home in preparation for the shows (ask Matt to give you the pics!!). Then Nikki broke her arm and had to pull out of the show!! Was a great shame it didn’t work out. But, despite the adversity, Wagons and Those Darlins have been friends ever since.

Before Those Darlins I played a few shows with Justin Townes Earle and Bobby Bare Jr. Both amazing American songwriters and performers!

How long was your trip to the states? How many cities did you play?

I was in the US for about 3 and a half weeks, visiting 13 towns all, across the country. Planes, trains and automobiles. I gather it’s not a massive tour by US standards, but we got around a bit for our first time here.

How have the crowds been during your opening performances?

I was a little worried about playing the opening slot. I haven’t been the warm up guy for quite a while. I was hoping I hadn’t lost my mojo for getting the crowd to be quiet and listen to what’s going on. As it turns out, everyone has been great and quite respectful. Maybe everyone is straining to understand what the hell it is I’m saying in my weird accent. Whatever the reason….I’m not fussy.

Was there any one city that seems to favor you over another?

Justin Townes Earle’s bass player Josh gave me a bag of bacon and choc chip cookies in Bellingham, WA. That city stands out for that reason.

I understand you headed to the UK? What went on over there?

Mostly fantastic Sunday roasts with Yorkshire pudding, Jammy Dodgers, Jaffa cakes, soggy but good fish n chips, pear ciders and cold weather. Playing a couple a gigs in London too. It’s mostly a holiday, but I’m playing over here a little bit before a run of shows back in Australia over Summer. Gotta record a record over New Year’s sometime too!

Is there anything here in the states you look at and shake your head at? Meaning are there major cultural differences you have noticed?

I shook my head when I was crossing the border into Canada and they asked if I was carrying any weapons.

You have a certain upfront humor that I loved but could offend someone easily. Has anyone taken your jokes the wrong way yet?

Someone once asked me the same question as you, with the addition that he was almost going to ram me into the drum-kit behind me. ‘Almost’ was the operative word. A lot of people almost get offended.

Do you have any fun stories you wish to share?

I’m an avid Tweeter and Facebooker – I wear glasses…I’m a nerd. I have shared a lot of my stupid happenings on there. Befriend me! I swear virtually befriending me is probably better than the real thing!

Why should someone check out Henry Wagons and the music he makes?

Because they have finished their daily chores, logged off their email, called their mom, walked their dog, starting to get bored and are looking for something absolutely fucking mind-blowing to do.

Check out Henry Wagons on FACEBOOK and MYSPACE and even TWITTER.