Live Review: Wagon Blasters, Half Trust, Gerald Lee, Jr.; Vinyl Williams, Dendrons, Cat Piss tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 8:24 am February 27, 2023
Wagon Blasters at Grapefruit Records, Feb. 24, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

Prior to Friday night’s in-store CD release show by the Wagon Blasters for the release of the In Frontier We Trust singles compilation CD I asked the originator of both bands, Gary Dean Davis, why he was having the show at a record store. I attended a Simon Joyner performance at Grapefruit last year (Simon runs the place) and found it quaint, cozy and more than a little cramped.

I suppose punk rock has always been about doing things in unconventional ways and places,” Gary said. “Over the years many of my favorite shows were in unconventional places. Many of which were at record stores: Firehose at Homer’s during a blizzard in ’87, Brimstone Howl also at Homer’s, Man or Astroman at Drastic Plastic, the Almost Music shows (a long defunct record store in Benson/Blackstone), along with a multitude of basement and even apartment shows I’ve played at or seen. I supposed the best reason is that people are there to listen to music.”

And thus was the case Friday night at Grapefruit. A small PA was set up in the corner of the store and the crowd of around 40 or 50 listened either standing or sitting among the bins of vinyl records. Yes, it was cozy and cramped, but it was also a lot of fun. 

Gerald Lee, Jr., at Grapefruit Records, Feb. 24, 2023.

Gerald Lee, Jr., a.k.a. Lee Meyerpeter, the frontman of a score of bands from the ‘90s through today (including Cactus Nerve Thing, Bad Luck Charm and Filter Kings) played a solo set with electric guitar that included tunes from all these bands (yes, including Cactus). Lee drops a slight country twang into everything he sings, whether it’s a punk song or a whiskey-fueled ballad. He closed his set with Filter Kings’ classic “100 Proof Man,” a song that was always destined to be covered by The Highwaymen but never was.

Bill Thornton and Gary Dean Davis – Half Trust – at Grapefruit Records, Feb. 24, 2023.

That was followed by a short set by Gary Dean Davis and Bill Thornton on acoustic guitar – playing as “Half Trust,” – tunes from Frontier Trust. Both seated, Gary explained that the CD was made so his kids could listen to their dad’s Frontier Trust songs in their cars, which is exactly what I did after the show. Mastered by Doug Van Sloun, the songs on In Frontier We Trust never sounded better. I think I own all of the 45s in which the CD was derived and can attest that the mix is brighter and more urgent than the vinyl. Gary, I’m sure, will be disappointed to hear that as he believes vinyl is the perfect medium, and maybe he was right… 20 years ago. 

You can order a copy of the CD directly from the Wagon Blasters’ Bandcamp page for a mere $10.

Finally, the rest of the Wagon Blasters took the stage, plugged in and played a rousing set of fan favorites with Gary providing his trademark stage jumps and between-song “Thanks!” Oh, what a night. 

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The rock continues tonight as psych-pop band Vinyl Williams headlines at Slowdown Jr. The band’s last album, Cosmopolis, was released last year on Requiem Pour Un Twister.  Chicago indie band Dendrons co-headlines the bill, which also includes Omaha’s own Cat Piss and The Dirts. That’s a lot of music for $15. Show starts at 8 p.m. 

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