Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Map Jam

So this past weekend I went to Map Jam with Amy.  We didn't make it to all of the shows, but we really enjoyed the shows that we saw.
Map Jam is a local music festival that's sponsored by local public radio station KUTX.  It takes place at several different venues over in East Austin, and it involves walking, biking, or driving (which is probably the least plausible option because of parking issues) between various businesses and parks which are set up as medium sized music venues for the event.

The first show that we saw was The Carper Family at Hops and Grain Brewery.  The Carper Family is a sort of country/bluegrass/folk trio made up of three women:  Melissa Carper (bass), Beth Chrisman (fiddle), and Jenn Miori (guitar). 
Hops and Grain made for a sort of cool venue in terms of novelty and neighborhood vibe, but there were a few sound problems.  The vocals, in particular, were too quiet, which was a shame, given the fact that the band's harmonies were excellent in the moments when you could hear them clearly.    Anyway, I liked The Carper Family, and I want to see them again.  The women were good at their instruments, and the songs were cool.  I just need to see them again in a venue where the sound system can do a little bit better job in terms of overcoming the crowd noise.
(The Carper Family at Hops an Grain Brewery)
(happy Amy with music and sunshine)
The second act that we saw was Latasha Lee & The Black Ties.  They were a fairly straightforward R&B/soul group that featured a fairly large number of background singers and musicians.  Latasha Lee is a strong singer and a compelling personality on stage.  She proved a confident, capable leader for a large band that included horns, keyboards, a saxophone, guitars, bass, drums, and a number of background singers.  Their music was really fun and easy to listen to.  I would definitely check them out again.  The venue where they performed consisted of a stage that was set up in the back portion of a nursery located near Tillery Park.  It was a little crowded, but the sound was much better than it had been during The Carper Family.

(Latasha Lee & The Black Ties playing in a nursery
near Tillery Park)
We skipped the next band, Growl, in order to go relax for a bit and have some food and beer with some friends at Gourmands. 
After we'd regained our strength we headed over to Pan Am Park to see Hard Proof.  Hard Proof describe themselves as Afrobeat funk, and I'd say that's a pretty good description.  They had lots of percussion and creating some long, rolling, danceable jams that got people up off their butts to dance in the late afternoon sun.  Their music blended a world beat rhythm and sound with bits of jazz and funk influences.  They did a pretty good of creating some hypnotic grooves without falling into the trap of becoming too repetitive or uninspired.  Once again, a small taste of another band that I would be happy to hear more of. 

(Hard Proof at Pan Am Park)
And that was about it.  We took off after three bands because we had other obligations.  But we had a great time!  The weather was beautiful, and the second year of Map Jam was a big success.  It felt like a uniquely Austin event.  Not only was it great to hear so many talented, cool, up-and-coming local acts, but it was really fun to just sort of wander around the east side of Austin with fellow music fans on a beautiful day.  I'm already looking forward to next year!