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After recent news of the expansion of unplugged living room shows across a mind-fogging 200 cities, Ft. Worth added to the ink in the waters of Sofar Sounds with its first (organized) “Songs from a Room” show. Organizers and audience members filled a sunlit room of Trey Mark Vodka Distillery @TreyMarkVodka Saturday afternoon, January 23rd with grinning eagerness for a bill toting acts like The Effinays @theeffinays, Von Strantz @VonStrantz, James Caronna @Jamescaronna, and a prime-time celebrity from NBC’s The Voice, Blaine Mitchell @blaine_mithchell of Treeside @treesidemusic.

The Effinays from Dallas hypnotized us with a quixotic twist of Funk/Latin/Hip-Hop and an ephemeral New Orleans lilt. The multifarious bunch consists of Joe “Big Spook” Martinez – Lead Vocals, Jeremy “Pan Blanco” Piering – Bass Guitar, Valenti “Funk” Thomas- Drums/Keys, Alex “Cave Man” Rivera De Jesús – Guitars, and Jimmy “Bang Bang” Gutierrez – Percussion. “Welcome to the effin-show!” opened our ears to a band that should be billed with Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’s The Roots. Kindred characters, all five members blended together funk and harmony from Valenti Thomas’ dual rhythms from keys to drums to Alex Rivera De Jesús’ Pantene curls and balmy Spanish riffs. The band must have been entertaining for one of their most reserved performances to date.

The EffinaysMatthew J. Sanchez | Wild Wonderment

Following was a brand of Sofar to which we are most accustomed. Indiana duo VON Strantz is an upright bass and violin playing Kelly Horton and guitarist/vocalist Jess Strantz with a brand of folk n’ roll fashioned for brandying the soul. “Cigarette Smoke” was a faint reminder of “What If God Was One of Us”, via 90s angel Joan Osborne, while “Dying Flower” channeled early (2010’s Suburban Nature) Sarah Jaffe. My proudest compliment is for “Sailor’s Tune” for which Strantz pined “Wondering if you ever loved me at all” in the style of a ranchera canción.   

VONStrantzMatthew J. Sanchez | Wild Wonderment

James Caronna traveled from Houston to share his songs about Mexican girls and lost hope. The frail, Father John Misty shadow of a man had a quiet, almost elusive countenance that drove home the importance of humility in a world full of excess and greed. His songs mirrored a singer-songwriter who has lost in love but has gained an audience with ballsy lyrics like “A job ain’t the highest virtue a man can hold”. “Losing Hope”, what he called an “attempt to write a political folk song”, was my personal favorite about the apathy and disconnect of an entire generation whose “eyes and souls are tied to our phones”. I tried to wash away the resounding irony of those words before laying down my own phone during the set.

IMG_8123Matthew J. Sanchez | Wild Wonderment

Lastly, a man whose recent past had been consumed by spotlight and fame uttered no truer words than, “They own everything you write” in reference to the honchos at The Voice. Blaine Mitchell of Treeside eventually shed that tiresome seal of silence and since then has been sharing a list of love songs meant to be preached by a gaping church mouth. Mitchell may have been trained by TV, but his lyrics,vocals, and sweet, soulful head shakes are all his own with songs like “Contagious”, “Wilderness”,and “Handful”. He ended the afternoon lineup with our stamp of approval to his new musical rediscovery.

Blaine MitchellMatthew J. Sanchez | Wild Wonderment

Find out more about the featured artists on their webpages:

The Effinays

Von Strantz

James Caronna

Blaine Mitchell of Treeside
Look for more Sofar Sounds in and around your home city and sign up to be a guest at Sofarsounds.com. The next shows in the DFW area will be February 14th (Ft. Worth), February 20th (Denton) and February 27th (East Dallas).