If you’ve got a taste for juicy songs that wrap barroom wisdom, existential poetry and badass musicianship in pretty melodic bows and roots-rocking ribbons, then hie thee to El Cid Thursday night. Former Angeleno Brian Wright is reuniting his band the Waco Tragedies, and he and local song hero David Serby will be hoisting the banner for class act songwriting and storytelling. Santa Barbara’s old school rock ‘n’ rollers the Tearaways will also be on the bill, but make no mistake: This is going to be Serby and Wright’s night.
Area music fans most likely remember Wright from his formerly frequent shows at Hotel Café in Hollywood, where the native Texan first dazzled normally jaded audiences with the Waco Tragedies. The meaty wordplay of songs like “Junk Queen,” “War on Wilcox” and “Falls County” could reduce chattering club hounds to hushed, head-nodding putty. After making two albums with his band, 2011’s “House on Fire” arrived under his own name and was released by Nashvilled-based Sugar Hill Records. Wright subsequently relocated with his family to Nashville, which has proved to be a professionally judicious move for him. But it was longtime LA bandmates like pianist Brother Sal and fiddler/guitarist Michael Starr that he rounded up for 2013’s “Rattle Their Chains”; loaded with gems like “Haunted” and “Weird Winter” (“Everyone confuses the man with the bruises with the one actually carrying the scar”), it earned Wright comparisons to the likes of Kris Kristofferson and Townes Van Zandt. LA’s loss was definitely Nashville’s gain.
Like Wright, Serby has earned respect as a songwriter among songwriters. He fronts one of the tighter bands in town, usually featuring invaluable guitarist/producer Ed Tree, and he has independently released several finely crafted honky-tonk, traditional folk and straight-up rock ‘n’ roll albums. Regardless of the musical settings, Serby’s trump card is always the economic eloquence of his songwriting:
“I’ve got a ’60 El Camino
And I spend most nights under the hood
And she watches from our kitchen window
Thinking ’bout leaving me for good
Wish I could fix it with this set of tools
New oil belts or fans
’Cause I can’t find the words she longs to hear
Guess I’m just better with my hands”
Serby’s been actively promoting LA’s Americana community this year through the California Roots Union, which he launched earlier this year with fellow songwriter Grant Langston. No promotional hats need be donned Thursday night, however; the music can speak for itself. n
Honky Tonk Hacienda presents Brian Wright & the Waco Tragedies, David Serby & the Latest Scam and the Tearaways at El Cid, 4212 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4; $5. Info: (323) 668-0318. Brianwrightmusic.com, davidserby.com, elcidla.com