Material: The phrase above the band, in kitschy neon glory, claims this venue to be “The Last Real Honky Tonk.” The band that takes the stage is a little more upbeat and contemporary than your average honky tonk group. Rye Brothers incorporate traditional numbers to please those who want that, but can also surprise with upbeat renditions of frequently covered (though rarely done) justice songs like “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash. However, Rye Brothers aren’t just a cover band. Their originals include strong lyric hooks. “Sunrise” has a pop-rock feel with a whimsical melody from Foutz, who also interlaces little riffs with heavy effects on “Every Other Country Song.”
Musicianship: The solos by Foutz are all compact, short and sweet on songs like Dwight Yoakam’s “Guitars, Cadillacs.” Delott really holds the music together with great walk-ups and solid bridge transitions from his five-string. Sorenson gets attacked by his mic at one point but plays on through without a hitch, providing sometimes unexpected beat changes, fun fills and even the occasional rim shot. Justin’s acoustic guitar is imperceptible, but does come through for the closing number. The occasional vocal struggle stems from a lack of monitors––a single-source PA is aimed at the audience. Despite technical issues, the band’s dynamics are strong.
Performance: Justin and Foutz trade on lead vocals and are joined by Delott and Sorenson for the occasional chorus. Foutz has a strikingly deep voice, perfect for the more traditional country songs, whereas Justin is better suited for the higher ranges like the group’s cover of “Footloose.” The vocal duo excels at audience participation, announcing specific line dance routines for each of their songs. They have a built-in audience as the venue offers free line dancing lessons just before the concert.
Summary: The band performed three sets, each one running an hour in length. Despite the time duration, Rye Brothers maintained their high energy and proved to be worth the watch. This is, in part, due to a whopping 150- song repertoire—they never have to play the same thing twice. Technically the band could benefit (like many other bands) by bringing their own monitor to make up for the venue’s mishap. Although the band is pushing for the popular country market, it is apparent that the musicianship is strong enough for crossing over into pop music territory.
The Players: Paul Justin, vocals, guitar; Justin Foutz, vocals, guitar; Jacob Delott, bass; Jeff Sorenson, drums.
Photo courtesy of Billy Jones
Listen to their song "California" here!
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