ALT-COUNTRY | Mandy Rowden

w/ JW Teller
Wed. Jan. 13
10 p.m.
The Mill

There are performers who couch their lyrical ideas in metaphor and allusion, and then there’s Austin’s Mandy Rowden. On her debut album, These Bad Habits, Rowden tells it like it is over a wiry brand of alt-country, singing in a low-key, sleepily sensual voice that calls to mind Kim Richey or Lucinda Williams. “This old world is full of sadness,” she sings matter-of-factly on “Bad Habits.” “It makes a man so blue/ Some turn to Jesus/ Others turn to booze.” Rowden, who played multiple instruments on the album in addition to co-producing it, says that her direct approach comes naturally. “When I first started writing songs, I didn’t know the first thing about actually writing songs,” she says. “So literally everything I put down was what was coming into my head. I wasn’t crafting anything.” Rowden grew up in a conservative, fundamentalist Baptist home, and she didn’t start listening to rock ‘n’ roll until she was 21, so calling her album These Bad Habits was meaningful for her in several ways. “It’s a combination of things,” she says. “I like the sound of it. I feel like it helps me break away from my squeaky-clean image. That might all be in my own head, but I feel like I come from such a conservative upbringing that that title was kind of edgy and cool.” In fact, trying to make the album became a bit of a habit in itself. “I’d tried to start this record several times,” she says. “I had it in my head that I was never going to get it done, so now I feel like, ‘Fuck yeah, I can do this!’ I feel like I’m on a roll now.” —Vincent Harris WEDNESDAY


w/ Abigail Palmer Group
Fri. Jan. 15
6 p.m.
Palmetto Brewing

Charleston’s Mark Yampolsky is a full-time periodontist by day and musician by way of the weekend. “It’s just the kind of thing where I have gotten to the point that I can do both, and I have been doing both for a while,” he says. A musician since he was a child, Yampolsky began doing solo cover shows and open mics — gradually sprinkled with originals — before teaming up with drummer John Gross, bass player Pascal Bouquillard, and lead guitar player Eddie Phillips to form Forty Mile Detour. A great blend of country, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll, Forty Mile Detour recorded its self-titled debut disc with Jay Clifford and Josh Kaler at Hello Telescope in 2010. That was only shortly after Yampolsky discovered Cayoma Cruises, a songwriter’s sea voyage frequented every year by the likes of Lyle Lovett, John Prine, and Brandi Carlisle — to name but a few. Yampolsky hasn’t missed a cruise ever since, which has helped him network his way into some cool friendships and collaborations. For example, the band’s latest, yet-to-be released record Ain’t No Devil features the incredible accordion playing of Grammy-Award-winning Joel Guzman, who regularly performs with artists like Los Lobos and Buddy Miller — and who Yampolsky met on board a Cayoma. “It’s because of that kind of support that I’m able to get my music out,” Yampolsky says. After he returns from his eighth cruise, the singer will begin hosting shows at his home for songwriters he’s met along the way. But what amazes him the most is not that he’s met Lyle Lovett on a cruise or that he’s gotten songwriting tips from a few of the greats — but that he has reached this exciting chapter later in his life. “People define success in different ways,” he says. “But I’m out doing music pretty much every weekend, writing all the time, and I just think that it’s never too late to do something like that, to live your dream. I never thought I would be songwriting and have an excellent band and just be out there playing my own songs that really resonate with people. So if you have something you want to do and you can kind of put the grit into it, you can make it happen. You can do it.” —Kelly Rae Smith FRIDAY

HILLBILLY SOUL | The Hooten Hallers

w/ Dyado
Fri. Jan. 15
9 p.m.
Royal American

On the Bandcamp page for the Columbus, Mo. trio the Hooten Hallers, one phrase stands out: “hillbilly soul.” “That was coined by a friend and fan of ours a few years ago,” says the band’s drummer, Andy Rehm. “And it does kind of make sense. We’ve combined roots forms of music throughout the spectrum. It’s not just country. It’s not just blues. We’re sort of combining traditional black and white music. So hillbilly soul sort of made sense.” Fair enough, but their music is more than just a mixture of styles. At their best, the band is a swaggering, staggering ball of chaos. The drums pound and stumble, the guitar sleazily slings riffs left and right, and the proceedings often take on an unsteady, distinctly boozy feel. And while this loose-but-limber dustball unevenly rolls along, singer/guitarist John Randall wails, rasps, and howls like Howlin’ Wolf slamming full speed into Joe Cocker. The balance between keeping the songs together and keeping the sound raw can be tricky, and Rehm says the band tries to adhere to the policy of “tight but loose.” “I feel like you’ve got to have a road map,” he says. “You’ve got to know where you’re going. But maybe you don’t have to pick the mixtape for the trip beforehand or stop at every rest area on the map. Me and John have been playing together for long enough now that he can do something off the cuff and I’ll follow his lead, but we all know where we’re going to end up.” —Vincent Harris FRIDAY

power-pop punk | Go Jenny Go

Tues. Jan. 19
10 p.m.
The Mill

Local rockers Go Jenny Go blend three generations of pop, punk, and rock ‘n’ roll into their music. Forming seven years ago with Steve Winter on drums, Dave Triberti on the guitar, and Cro on the bass, the members of Go Jenny Go never had any overly ambitious goals about the band. “We’re not trying to take ourselves too seriously,” Winter says. “Go Jenny Go is all about having fun.” A quick look back at the poster for their 2013 song “Deeper Into Strange” shows the trio decked out like explorers in quirky historical outfits, a testament to the band’s whimsy. As for their shows, however, Winter and the gang are totally serious. “We try not to limit ourselves to any sound in particular, but if we were to put it in a category, it’s like a ’90s alternative-rock revival,” Winter says. “The three of us grew up in three different decades, so that also adds to our different sound we try to create.” Sharing the stage with Go Jenny Go will be local indie/emo newcomers the FRONTMANs, which formed over the summer. Ontario punk rockers LETDOWN will also perform as the band finishes up their tour. —Kaleb Eisele TUESDAY

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