Over the years, I've heard a lot of truth from Eugene Snowden, widely considered to be the area's greatest soul dealer, whose wall in Orlando's hall of fame is already guaranteed. Even amid a sprawling band like the most deluxe versions of the Legendary JC's, the man is a blinding beacon of voice and presence. At Ten Pints of Truth, his weekly residency at Lil Indies (Dec. 10), that force is up close and personal.
Snowden's show began as a trio with Pascal Sacleux (guitar) and Katie Burkess (drums) but grew to include other players. In fact, as Daniel Hanson (Fat Night, Fast Preacher) can attest, it seemed like any known musician entering the house that night was fair game at least for an invitation.
But Ten Pints is really about Snowden getting loaded and performing and watching how those two things mingle down the stretch. From his conversations and orders at the bar right before going on, it looked like the party started well before the show. Oh, this was gonna be good. Even if it's bad, it'll still be good.
Once the music started, Snowden straight-up ran the night, channeling the likes of Blind Willie Johnson, Wilson Pickett and R.L. Burnside. As dazzling as he is under the big spotlight, this intimate setting actually enables him to do more than just perform; it allows him to hold court. Unlike his more elaborate shows, this gathering is meant to be unbuttoned. But despite its looseness, Snowden had a total grip on the proceedings, greeting many attendees by name and singlehandedly setting the pulse of the room. By force of will and showmanship, he hand-delivers the experience for everyone there personally. Informal, raw and occasionally incendiary, a Ten Pints session starts out like a bonfire but can peak like a rapturous church service. It's a thing of interaction, spontaneity and immersion.
Outside was the cool winter night, but inside, Snowden turned Lil Indies into a humid juke joint in what's already become a hot Mills Avenue tradition. When it comes to soul, blues and rock & roll, Ten Pints of Truth is as pure, hard and uncut a fix as you'll find in the city.
Peanut Butter Wolf is a man who packs heavy credentials as not just a pre-eminent DJ among hip-hop's neo-classicists, but also as the father of the tastemaking Stones Throw Records. Beyond the name drops, he's made a name by helping to reclaim some of the spotlight back to the DJ – you know, that cat that Rakim, Run-DMC and Chuck D kept going on about – at least in smart indie circles.
Having said all that, maybe his prestige is a little taller than his actual turntable skills because his recent Orlando set (Dec. 11, the Social), though surely a party, was fairly conventional in execution. There was some good, dynamic use of video, but remove the celebrity and the visuals and local opener DJ BMF took the prize in terms of sheer technique. Still, dude kicked it up with a classic-leaning set built on impeccable song selection. The guy knows how to get into a crowd's bloodstream and kick 'em into high kinesis.
Although Austin band Greyhounds isn't too well-known, the man sitting behind the drums at their recent show (Dec. 12, Backbooth) was a very familiar and renowned local: beat master Anthony Cole. To Orlando scenesters, that's something that should go a long way in certifying Greyhounds' legitimacy. Their Florida connection goes even deeper: All are members of Jacksonville success story JJ Grey & Mofro.
To get you up to speed, they're a trio of guitar, drums and keys/organs. Oh, and some funky motherfucker in a space suit who introduced them and then spent the night roving about the club getting down in slow motion.
Greyhounds' sound is a vintage blend of soul, rock and blues that's pumped with rich, oxygenated blood. They're serious practitioners with deep respect and lots of skill. Besides good playing all around, the group's further blessed with two distinctive singers and the good sense not to get lost in jam. The result is some thick, refined honey.