Two Nights At Tewligans

By Jim Powell

On September 22, the people who gathered at Tewligans were treated to a wonderful show that featured the talents of the Nashville-based group the Dusters. Also appearing on the same bill was the Lexington group Lydon Jones and the Modern Elements, who opened the show with a set that lasted just under an hour and was dominated by original material.

But this band had to give way to the headliner and so the Dusters took the stage with their mixture of hard-driving rock and blues. The Dusters have been making a name for themselves for the past four years with their style of music that enabled them to take home four of the 1989 Metro Nashville Music Awards including the Roots Rock Band of the Year and the Band of the Year Award..

The first thing that a person notices about the Dusters is that the group has a very tight sound with no wasted motion or useless action. This pace is set by the work of drummer Leo Overton, who establishes the burning beat that the Dusters thrive upon. Add to that a thunder groove provided by bassist L. David Barnette and the sum is a foundation for the group to kick the blues out and incite a crowd experience of the roots of rock.

To compliment the foundation established by Overton and Barnette, Ken McMahon on the guitar and vocals echoes the traditions of the great Bluesmen. McMahon's ability with the guitar dazzled the audience, but it was his gravelly voice that everyone remembered. After seeing the Dusters, it's easy to understand why a bluesman like Johnny Winter will ask them to open his show whenever he plays Nashville.

On October 7, another excellent show was staged at Tewligans when Stealin' Horses appeared, with Robert Jones (Gruber) opening. Jones, a bartender and cook at Tewligans, filled in at the last minute when Bucking Strap cancelled. He performed an hour-long acoustic set comprised of mostly original tunes with a few cover versions of Bob Dylan songs.

During his set, Jones took the listeners back to his living room with an easy style of playing. When he forgot some of the lyrics to one of Dylan's songs, nobody seemed to mind and Jones covered. up by making fun of his limitations as a performer. The stage was set for Stealin' Horses to come out and fascinate the audience with their show.

Stealin' Horses is an all-female, three-piece band which, unlike the ordinary procession of "chick" bands that have recently plagued the music scene, has the ability to mix musical professionalism with socially relevant commentary. Although a simulator is used for the bass line, the trio has in Kopana Terry a drummer who can hold her own with any drummer and a guitarist in Kelly Richey who takes a back seat to very few. The fulcrum of Stealin' Horses, however, is the vocals of Kiya Heartwood, a singer reminiscent of the late Patsy Cline.

The set that Stealin' Horses presented was primarily original material written by Heartwood. However, there were several cover versions of rock classics such as "Whole Lotta Love," "Purple Haze," "For What It's Worth," and "Gloria" that set the house a'rockin'.

Nevertheless, the most enduring s songs were the Heartwood tunes about social issues, with such titles as "Broadform Deed," "Harriet Tubman," and "Family Man."