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Saturday, March 19 • 10:00pm - 11:00pm
Gun Runner

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Give a listen and one might conclude: the sound of Gun Runner could've come from, really, just about anywhere. True? Maybe. But that's only geographically speaking. Because their aural identity is distinct and comes with indisputably identifiable source names. Such as, creatively hands-on keyboardist (Wurlitzer, organ, more) and principal vocalist Sean Davenport, given to a signature soulful croon with ominous edge and anxious texture, evident in deeper brooding or up-swooping falsetto. It's a voice that can make any song compelling -- which works out nicely, considering Gun Runner's already catchy bevy of tuneage. Their well-drawn originals come in tones of rock & roll, R&B, what-is-this and mixtures thereof, along with a fine use of open space and a fresh coat of judiciously applied alt-art-ambient-etc. (Ahh, words/labels: never the best way to convey sonic essence...) And Davenport’s voice stands right back up to any passing evocations that may register upon hearing Gun Runner's six-song 2010 EP Bad Neighbors or material from their forthcoming 2011 debut album. Definitely more Tom Petty than Bob Dylan; but far more like a thing that can flit between the melodic nonchalance of Pavement's Stephen Malkmus; the emphatic enunciation of Cold War Kids’ Nathan Willett; occasional Cure-like warbling; some Spoon-ish get-down urgency; even traces of Jonathan Richman (without the stuffed-up nose). But again: it's all in passing. Oh -- and, say, you're just now learning that Davenport started playing in bands in Boston (indeed, even studying at Berklee School of Music there), and presently considering if that may represent some scene/sound tie-in to go along with the ref to Beantown vet indie icon Richman, etc. Wrong. Similarly inconsequential is the fact that Davenport migrated down to Brooklyn with Boston band Abigail Warchild, playing keys and thus participating in the musically fertile NYC borough's diverse underground rock culture. He was impressed and inspired but never “went Brooklyn” (which is good, cuz ya can’t). In fact, Davenport eventually moved back home to San Diego, where, instead of feeling like a hired gun, he could work on his own musings, developing something that, again, was never dependent on any local connection. Except ... while indirectly mini-reviewing Gun Runner's reported first show (they formed in later 2009), an SD weekly cited the band’s “harkening back to the good ole days of San Diego music with a ring of GoGoGo Airheart. Show-goers spin circles on the dance floor and shout callbacks to the chorus. Tommy Graf belts out noise solos on the guitar. Front man Sean Davenport hoists his keyboard over his head and tickles out an epic coda ..." Not a bad comparison, in its own obtuse way. Davenport can sound a touch like the fine angsty lather that vocalist Mike Vermillion (of SD’s defunct,‘90s/’00s proto-neo-art-punk-funk-rockers GGG AH) used to work himself into; and Sean’s keys can even smack a bit of GoGoGo member Jimmy LaValle's dabblings -- although only as the keybs-playing architect of LaValle’s own The Album Leaf, not when he flew in Airheart. (Beware those misleading connections, remember?) Now then, Tommy Graf: absolutely, another of Gun Runner’s identifiable sound sources -- but don’t look to figure out how/what/why by noting his German and Kansan roots. Really. Graf grew up in SD as well, and has been an estimable multi-instrumentalist player in his own right ‘round town for a while, as a singer-songwriter/project leader, a talented guitarist, and more (e.g., also handy on keys, even drums). Before joining GR, he’d fronted the Mojave and the Wind Talkers -- both featuring sympathetic G. Runner bassist Diego Rojano. Rojano was an old pal of Davenport’s from San Diego that he looked up after coming back to SD. Much like certain other border region musicians, Rojano’s intuitive bass skills are what matter in Gun Runner, not necessarily his "mexicanidad" -- although the band does have an original called “Borderline” (i.e., theirs: neither a Madonna nor a MC5 cover). And, of notable mention unto itself, Diego is a partner with two other Rojano brothers in a stellar Mexican food joint called "Lucha Libre," which offers a better take on the legendary SoCal Mexi-fast-food menu -- tacos, burritos, to live/die for -- and even, the “TJ Dog,” that tasty bacon-wrapped hot dog hawked on the streets of neighboring Tijuana. (Just off the I-5, Lucha Libre's artfully tricked out in a decor celebrating Mexican wrestling -- que sí güey, muy recommended.) So, again, the sound of Gun Runner -- best you listen for yourself ... but you knew that. What about press citing of Wilco and Sonic Youth as influences? Maybe. Certainly, in terms of being open-minded and oft-excellent. What of the fact that Davenport was humbled after first experiencing Radiohead live? Great, encouraging -- but nothing too identifiably unique there, eh? How about comparisons of GR to the variegated music of Dylan’s recent records? ‘Tis in the ear of the … right? And, that working Gun Runner description as “psychedelic cowboy rock”? Cool, whatever; if it works well -- then, wherever it comes from, sounds good.

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Gun Runner

Give a listen and one might conclude: the sound of Gun Runner could've come from, really, just about anywhere. True? Maybe. But that's only geographically speaking. Because their aural identity is distinct and comes with indisputably identifiable source names. Such as, creatively... Read More →

Saturday March 19, 2011 10:00pm - 11:00pm CDT
Maggie Mae's Gibson Room

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