We arrive at the Mean Eyed Cat and it’s an idyllic, scuzzy, craptastic dive, complete with tiny stage covered with a tin roof, Johnny Cash artifacts everywhere (the restrooms are labeled simply “June” and “Johnny”), free Shiner Bocks, loads of BBQ, beat up chairs and plenty of vibe.
The day starts in a tiny corner outside the bar with a nervous, yet charming, Liz Green and a short set of compelling acoustic and a cappella gospel folk. You can’t help but be captivated by this tiny Brit making her stateside debut in such a perfect setting. We later find Ms. Green strolling around the poll table taking in all the Johnny Cash ephemera, mesmerized by her journey. Charming indeed.
Then it’s a quick shot to the small stage under the beat up tin roof for NY state’s favorite sons, The Felice Brothers. Not as agitated and uptight as they appeared at their Wednesday showcase, the Mean Eyed Cat seems to be a home away from home. This show is looser and more soulful as the three Felice Brothers take center stage to perform an a cappella ballad that provides goosebumps. The set list is otherwise similar to Wednesday’s but the energy level is much higher and this spirited show has us both convinced – these guys are for real.
Quickly following are the notorious underground no-hit, good field, a million You-Tube views of “Thou Shalt Always Kill” lap top rapper masterminds Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip. Now I like most novelty songs about as much as a good root canal, but their shtick is entertaining for about 2 ½ songs and then quickly becomes a pesky annoyance. I know when a song pokes fun at James Blunt that it’s already well past its sell-by date. They play their hit and like Schindler’s List I’m glad I saw it once, but I won’t be going back for more.
There are other acts but we’re busy chatting up T-Bird (drummer for British psychobilly rave-up outfit Swampmeat - thanks for the disc!), The Felice Brothers and Phil Alexander, our genial host and MC as well as Mojo’s editor-in-chief, and we thank him for a perfect afternoon. He takes my ebullient, if slightly tongue-in-cheek, endorsement of the Mean Eyed Cat to heart here.
On the way back to the hotel we hit Amy’s Ice Cream next to Waterloo Records and boy does their milkshake hit the spot. After a quick stop it’s off to John Doe’s solo gig at the Free Yr Radio Stage on Red River. He’s in full troubadour mode for a dusty four song set including "A Little More Time", "Mama Don't and "Forever For You" and a spirited reading of “The Golden State”, one of last year’s best songs. There’s only about 50 or 60 folks but it’s a nice tune-up for tonight’s show at Emo’s.
John Doe shalt always kill.