Two Awesome Things Tonight: Cameron Dezen Hammon & Night Drive + Hescher (Plus Videos!)

Hey, y’all — it’s Thursday, March 30th, and holy crap, I cannot believe we’re right at the end of March already. Seriously? Damn. I am way, way, way behind with a whole lot of stuff…

That’s not why we’re here, though, so we’ll skip that and focus on the here and now. Good? Good. Because tonight boasts not one but two excellent, excellent things you should be doing. Heck, you might even be able to do both, you crazy rebel, you.

First off, the ever-amazing Cameron Dezen Hammon will be performing at St. Mark’s Episcopal on Bellaire from 7:30-8:30PM, as part of the church’s Lenten Concert Series. It won’t just be Hammon this time out, mind you, but her backed by a full band that’ll include pianist Jeremy Nuncio, bassist Andrew Gordon, drummer Asher Pudlo, and pedal steel player Will Van Horn.

You may recognize some of those names, by the by — they’re all talented as hell musicians themselves, and they’ve all done time in various H-town outfits, including roots-country supergroup The Wandering Bufaleros (Nuncio), indie-rockers Vodi (Pudlo), Robert Ellis‘s backing band (Van Horn), and jazz singer Tianna Hall‘s backing band (Gordon).

Plus, of course, Ms. Hammon herself, who I’m always amazed and entranced by. She’s just got this crystalline, pure voice that works beautifully whatever the heck she’s singing; whether it’s sunshiny pop or somber hymns or rolling country-folk, she can do it all. Check out her cover of Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” right here:

That’s from her album of covers, Words Don’t Bleed, and if you haven’t heard it, well, you really should, because it’s great (more on that here). That said, she’s warned online that this show will be more in the country/blues vein, so you might be hearing some very different things.

As an added bonus, while the concert itself is free, the church is partnered up with the charity Hospitality Partners, which is a very worthy cause — they provide free housing near the Med Center for families whose members are receiving medical treatments there but who don’t live nearby. That’s a cool thing by me.

Next on the pile is a show over at The Nightingale Room, which I still need to get over to to check out at some point. Unlike the previous show, this one’s a twofer, with cool Austin-Houston synth-pop duo Night Drive at the top of the bill.

My only exposure live to these guys was a little weird, I must admit, in that it was outdoors, in daylight, at a big, loud, rowdy music festival — it felt a little wrong somehow, y’know? The band needed to be experienced in the near-dark, with lots of lasers and fog machines and slinky, too-skinny people dancing languidly in the gloom, not exposed in the bright light of day. Hopefully the Nightingale will be a bit of a better fit in that regard.

Whatever the environment, Night Drive are a damn cool band; they were one of the first I’d heard of the most recent wave of synth-pop revivalists, and it was immediately obvious that they weren’t doing it as any kind of ironic pose but rather because they just flat-out loved that kind of music.

And hey, they’ve got a new album coming out, I hear, a self-titled full-length that’ll be released June 16th on Roll Call Records. Just yesterday they dropped the first video/single from the album, for “Rise and Fall,” and whoo, boy, is it old-school trippy, with tons of analog ’80s video filters (not to mention plenty of synths and icy-cool detached vocals). Here you go:

Before Rodney Connell and Brandon Duhon hit the stage, though, one-man-band Hescher, aka Cory Sinclair, will be lighting things up. Hescher is Sinclair’s first real musical outlet since the demise(?) of beloved drama-rock band/troupe/cast The Manichean, and I’m happy as hell to see him moving on on his own. Cory’s a good dude, a friend, and a great musician, to boot.

He’s only got one song out so far as Hescher, “Scarlet Shell,” but it’s a hell of a track. Like most of his former band’s work, “Scarlet Shell” is cinematic and moody and haunting; the vocals are minimal, just a handful of whispered lines, with the bulk of the song moving through dark, somewhat menacing synth washes and fragile piano lines. More than anything, it brings to mind UK outfit Reigns’ “Everything Beyond These Walls Has Been Razed,” both in its steady-building menace and use of instrumentation. It’s the score to a disturbing, slow-burn horror film, minus the film itself.

There’s a video, too, complete with lots of, um, blood? I think? Enjoy:

That’s all he’s got for now, but damn, I’m looking forward to more. And as for me, that’s all I’ve got for the moment, too. Get on out there; it looks like it’ll be a nice night…

(Photos: Cameron Dezen Hammon photo by Anna Sneed; Night Drive photo by Scott David Gordon Photography; Hescher photo by lifebeginsatmidnight.)

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