LiveDC: Futurebirds / Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray @ Black Cat
BYT Staff | Feb 25, 2011 | 9:10AM |

All words and photos: Mindy Barrett

Rare is the show that arouses no complaints from me at all. I’m naturally a bit of a “glass-half-empty (and also the liquid inside the glass is poison)” type of gal, to the extent that I have retroactively ruined shows for friends with even my most benign criticisms. I’ve torn apart shows that I’ve genuinely loved…perhaps because I’ve never learned to express my emotions properly. But that’s a whole ‘nother bag of beans.

I think I’ve already declared two other shows the best of 2011, so far. But deal with it, because now I’m saying this one was.

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>>>>>>>>>>>> Here is a Featured Event >>>>>>>>>>>>
Thursday 03/30
Carlos Mencia from Mind of Mencia @ Arlington Cinema N Drafthouse
$30 / $30
Carlos Mencia is undoubtedly one of today’s most popular entertainers and comics. Whether it is man-on-the-street interviews, studio comedy, commercial parodies, nationwide sold-out tours, or films, Mencia demonstrates an extraordinary ability to connect with a wide and diverse audience. Mencia comes from a humble background, born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the 17th of 18 children. His parents sent him to the United States when he was about three months old, where he was raised in Maravilla Projects in Los Angeles, California by his aunt and uncle. In his early teens, Mencia moved back to Honduras because his family wanted him to avoid the destructive gang culture of East Los Angeles. When Mencia later returned to Los Angeles, he showed such educational prowess that he was immediately promoted to the tenth grade. Soon after, he successfully graduated from Garfield High School. Mencia began his career doing stand-up on amateur night. After he found success on the L.A comedy circuit, Mencia was named “International Comedy Grand Champion” from Buscando Estrellas (the Latino version of Star Search). This led to appearances on “In Living Color,” “The Arsenio Hall Show,” “Moesha” and “An Evening at the Improv.” In 1994, he hosted the HBO comedy series “Loco Slam” and in 1998 he hosted “Funny is Funny!” on Galavision. Mencia released a comedy album in 2000 called “Take a Joke, America” that showcased his brand of humor. Mencia continued his journey up the comedy ladder by headlining “The Three Amigos” tour with Freddy Soto and Pablo Francisco in 2002, which sold out in record time around the United States. He was also featured in the independent films, “Outta Time” and “29 Palms” and starred in guest spots on “The Shield” and “The Bernie Mac Show,” among others. In 2002, he received a CableACE Award nomination for Best Stand-Up Comedy Special for his HBO special. That same year, Mencia was featured on “Comedy Central Presents.” Mencia remained busy and after the success of his solo dvd, “Carlos Mencia: Not For The Easily Offended,” “Mind of Mencia” went into development. The show was an instant hit and after the first season, Comedy Central signed Mencia back for his own original stand-up special, “Carlos Mencia: No Strings Attached.” The special was the first Comedy Central Stand-up Special DVD to achieve Platinum sales status. “Mind of Mencia” debuted on Comedy Central in early 2005. It became one of the strongest shows in the network’s history, averaging about 1.5 million total viewers. “Mind of Mencia” was executive produced by Carlos Mencia and Robert Morton (“Late Night with David Letterman”). In the summer of 2007, Mencia starred opposite Ben Stiller and Michelle Monaghan in the Farrelly Brothers’ hit feature film, THE HEARTBREAK KID (DreamWorks). In the fall of that year Mencia headlined a nationwide comedy tour titled “Carlos Mencia Live Presented by Bud Light.” The highly anticipated tour brought Mencia face-to-face with his fans from September 2007 through December 2007. Shortly thereafter, Mencia taped a new comedy special for Comedy Central, “Carlos Mencia: Performance Enhanced,” that aired in May 2008. Since 2007, every holiday season Mencia has embarked on a USO Tour to the Persian Gulf to entertain the troops serving overseas. For his 2008 trip, Mencia visited Kuwait to host “Operation MySpace,” an exclusive concert for American Troops in the Middle East alongside Jessica Simpson and The Pussycat Dolls. The special aired on FX in April 2008. Mencia’s 2009 USO tour had stops in Turkey, Kirkuk, Baghdad, Qatar, Afghanistan, and many other countries. In July 2008, Mencia began his tour, “At Close Range” at Red Rock Amphitheatre in Colorado. The tour was sponsored by Bud Light and co-promoted by Icon Entertainment and Live Nation. Larger than all of his previous tours, Mencia performed in 80 cities across the country. In the summer of 2009, he kicked off a nationwide comedy tour entitled “The Administration of Laughter” which brought him to excited audiences all around the country. In March 2010, Mencia starred in the family comedy OUR FAMILY WEDDING (FOX Searchlight) alongside America Ferrara and Forrest Whitaker. In the last couple years, Mencia chose to go back to his comedic roots, performing at a number of comedy stores throughout the country – allowing him to share his newest material with smaller and more intimate audiences.
>>>>>>>>>>>> Ok, back to the article! >>>>>>>>>>>>

Opening act Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray are honest-to-goodness some of the most charming and alarmingly great musicians I’ve seen live. Their lyrics told the stories of young hillbillies paralyzed by the notion of success, ladies in loveless relationships with cities, and older hillbillies seeking safety from soothsayers. These topics could have come across as forced cliches of country music delivered by attractive hepcats riding the current wave of banjo enthusiasm. But instead they came across as clever, well-crafted, haunting little stories.

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Miss Shevaughn has one of the most beautiful and powerful voices I’ve heard from a female vocalist. Nowadays every lady sounds like either Chan Marshall (indifferent and ethereal) or Joanna Newsom (maniacal and alien). No one assaults you with strength, loveliness, and the ability to sing in key. Miss Shevaughn did. I’m groping for the right comparisons, but I’ll go with Patsy Cline and Chrissy Hynde. Yuma Wray’s no slouch either, sounding a bit like an American Eugene Kelly.

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Musically, they’re pretty darned skillful: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, mandolin, bass drum, banjo, keyboard, harmonica, and finger chimes. All split between two people. The result is something a little like Blanche, a little like the Cowboy Junkies, and little like the dearly departed White Stripes (score one for Meg White if she was actually an influence on someone). They’d be a great compliment to These United States if the two ever toured together.

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The Futurebirds are six unassuming young guys from Athens, GA, each more fresh-faced than the last (even the beardo weirdo on banjo). Guitars, drums, bass, and the first point in their favor: a pedal steel slide guitar. I have never been disappointed with one of those. I mean NEVER. They’re gold, I tells ya!

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And this pedal steel player didn’t let me down. He might have been my favorite thing all evening, what with his finger-picking and nonchalant-beer-sipping. On account of this magical pedal steel situation, the banjo they busted out made a lot of since, rather than wreaking of irony. All of these instruments together created a fabulous little wall of twangy sound (a la Phil Spector, pre-murder. Also, twangy).

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The Futurebirds were boisterous, they were full of boyish glee, and they were dancing around the tiny Black Cat backstage like some excitable Phish cover band (although they sounded nothing like Phish, thank merciful Christ). Vocals traded off between three of the six members, all of which sounded great. Maybe they didn’t strike me as profound as Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray, but they were incredible fun. I craved fried chicken and an IPA while they played.

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What’s that a sign of? I’m not sure, but no band has ever made me hungry before. I suppose I mean to say they’ve achieved a nice mix of both marijuana- and BBQ-appropriate college-rock-alt-country-ness. For comparison: The Gun Club, The 13th Floor Elevators, Richmond Fontaine, and Wilco (if Wilco were ballsier). They’d also tour well with These United States.

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Generally, I regret a lot of petty nonsense. But I bought both of these bands’ albums, and I don’t regret the loss of my hard-earned $12 in the least. How’s that for a glowing endorsement?

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Comments:
Recent Comments:
  • HerschelTalker says:

    I hear they are an entirely different band live then they are on that studio album. I hope that’s the case because I found the studio album to be terribly boring and I wanted to love it. I lived in Athens for a few years and was excited to hear about a band that channeled The Band and americana sounds…but I just found the whole thing to be uninspired.

  • Bschro3000 says:

    Yeah . . . Futurebirds are incredible . . . i would like to know what you think of the studio album after a few listens? Check out their daytrotter sessions – they show a real growth from the studio album to about 8 months later.

  • your sweet internet name says:

    All I can say about that rockin little band from Athens georgia is…… My favorite “F” word is now FUTUREBIRDS!