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Music Review - `Fantastico` by Mitch Webb and The Swindles (jh)

Mitch Webb and The Swindles -  Fantastico (click on image to watch video)

02 December 2019 

 

We non-Texans associate music with the Texas cities of Austin, Houston, and even Dallas-Ft. Worth long before we think of San Antonio. Mention San Antonio native, Tex-Mex, and roots rock pioneer Doug Sahm, however, and then San Antonio takes on a bit more cred. Think also of nearby Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, the nearby Hill Country, and even the city’s long-running music clubs Casbeers and Sam’s Burger Joint, and the musical picture comes into clear focus. San Antonio is the intersection of authentic country, Tejano, Conjunto, Tex-Mex, roots-rock and even punk (think Hickoids). Mitch Webb and The Swindles are torchbearers in a sense, keeping this intoxicating mix in play, now with their sixth album, Fantastico.

Visit the band’s website and you’ll see these opening lines – “We are a small band out of San Antonio filled with great musicians... We have managed to carve our own niche from the Americana music scene by embracing the rich musical heritage of San Antonio.  This band sounds like San Antonio, a mixture of cultures and generations colliding and embracing each other.”  The phrase “filled with great musicians” is an understatement. These are some of the best musicians not only in San Antonio but in the state. Webb sings lead vocals and plays the guitar, and is joined by Grammy award winner Joe Reyes on guitar and vocals (Freddy Fender, Flaco Jimenez, Texas Tornados), Chris Dodds (Two Tons Of Steel) on drums, Dave Wasson on guitar, Odie Wayne Cole on bass, and usually either Michael Guerra or Josh Baca on accordion (Mavericks and Los Tex Maniacs respectfully). The latter are both featured here along with high profile guests Augie Meyers on Farfisa (Sir Douglas Quintet, Bob Dylan), Al Gomez on trumpet (West Side Horns), and Denny Mathis on pedal steel (Two Tons of Steel) among several others. Those names alone clue one into the sound of The Swindles. The spirit of Doug Same lives on.

In fact there’s a tribute to Sahm entitled “New Bordertown” that features both Meyers and Baca. “Marie” digs even deeper into Latin flavored textures. Yet, at heart The Swindles are garage rockers too evidenced best by the closer “Can’t Stop” and, to a lesser extent,” “Gone, Gone, Gone” is a southern rocker apparently originally slated for the Georgia Satellites second album. Listen closely and theirs is a wide palette, fitting for upholding the city’s legacy and for doing some exploring too .“Big C” channels gypsy jazz, “Driftwood” pays homage to Ray Price via an old Hickoids song, “Jail in San Antone” cuts with blues-rock, the title track is hybrid surf-flamenco instrumental, and true county comes by way of the Patsy Cline style ballad “I Was So Wrong.”

Mitch Webb and his high caliber musicians unsurprisingly cross-genre borders seamlessly. That’s not only indicative of San Antonio’s music scene. It’s what’s always made music from Texas so fascinating.

 

Jim Hynes

 

 

Jim Hynes is an independent contributor on music for several magazines, including Elmore and Country Standard Time. He has also written for Variety. He was a listener-supported public station(s) radio host for 25 years in CT, MI, NJ and PA. He is also a Live music host/Emcee at several national and regional venues.

To Read All of Jim's Reviews, Click Here

 

 


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