Close ties, not competition, for three top Amarillo bands
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by Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
“Are we allowed to use the word ‘band-cest’?”
That description, from Amarillo singer-songwriter Maggie Burt, is the best way to describe what’s in store for audiences Friday at the Golden Light Cantina, 2906 S.W. Sixth Ave.
Three of the city’s best Americana bands – Burt’s four-person group, Eddie & The Eat and Playa Lake – will give a 9 p.m. Friday show at the cantina, dubbed “Arkansas Family Reunion.”
Why’s that? Because all three bands are so intimately tied to one another that they referred to themselves as in-bred hillbillies – jokingly, of course.
“The Amarillo music scene is more about collaboration than competition,” said Eddie Esler, frontman for Eddie & The Eat.
“Even to the point of billing,” said Wade Tosh, guitarist/vocalist/banjo player for Playa Lake and bassist for Burt. “We don’t care (whose name is listed first).”
They’ll even be performing one another’s songs during their Friday sets: Playa Lake will perform Burt’s music, Burt will do The Eat’s, and Esler’s band will do Playa Lake’s. They’ll all join forces for a final set of “bucket-list covers,” according to Esler, including songs by Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers Band, Aretha Franklin and others.
“We’re covering all the bases,” Burt said.
Members of the three bands sat down with me during a recent rehearsal at the Golden Light, trying to map out all of the interconnections. See if you can follow along:
Playa Lake features Tosh, vocalist/guitarist Jeremy Knowles and drummer Taylor Barringer, all of whom used to play together in Amarillo punk band Bad Elastic, plus bassist/trumpeter Austin Bagwell and saxophonist Spencer Mode. Esler filled in with the band for several months while former member Alex Henderson was recuperating from a motorcycle accident.
Burt and Esler previously performed together in Turbine Toolshed, and Burt’s drummer Ben Smeaton appeared in one of that band’s videos.
Esler recruited members of The Eat between sets for Playa Lake, snagging Bagwell and Barringer for his group and adding guitarist Andrew Fox – who, Tosh pointed out, is the only musician to have performed regularly with all three bands.
Burt – who has played with so many musicians in town that she just started listing herself as “Maggie Burt & Friends” because the lineup was so unpredictable – finally solidified a lineup featuring Fox, Tosh and Smeaton, her cousin.
“Yeah,” Burt deadpanned, “I keep going back to the term ‘band-cest.’”
“We’re all the weird cousins,” Tosh interjected.
“Cuz-bros,” Bagwell quipped.
The Arkansas Family Reunion – featuring Maggie Burt, Eddie & The Eat and Playa Lake – kicks off at 9 p.m. Friday at Golden Light Cantina, 2906 S.W. Sixth Ave. Cover is $7.