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This Little Underground: Backbooth’s comeback

The Falcon ready for shows, The Welzeins, Kelly Craven, Slim Walker & His Orchestra, Stephen Rock, Wheeler Newman & the Cosmic Roots Collective

Photo: Photo BY JAMES DECHERT, License: N/A



Of the show’s couple other standout moments, it was nice to be reminded again of local Kelly Craven, who’s still one of the most engaging and believable acoustic performers around. Unlike the sea of bathos and hacks that’s washed out the form, his rich, fiery folk honors the singer-songwriter tradition.

With him, there’s no affectation or bloated nothingness, just pure power of expression.

The other point of interest was Orlando group Slim Walker and His Orchestra, an outlandish but fun collision of Southernisms like country and boogie rock with ’60s frat rock.

Celebrating the release of their debut album was Wheeler Newman and the Cosmic Roots Collective (March 29, The Venue). Despite the suspiciously jammy name, this local band is solidly on the Southern rock tip. The relatively new act is decent, though a little loose and by-the-numbers. Even though they still need some executional focus, Newman has some solid songs on which to build. Considering his earnest desire and enthusiasm for the Orlando music scene, he’s worth keeping an eye on.

Cutting deep was local opener Stephen Rock. Rock, who doesn’t play out nearly enough, came backed by star guitarist Brian Chodorcoff, who’s skilled, versatile and unquenchable enough to play out all the time.

Musically, Rock interprets American folk roots with real depth and atmosphere. Vocally, he dispatches his rich, robust voice with exceptional taste. This rare performance was a powerful reminder of a smart musician who’d be a defining force if only he were more active on the scene. But even barely part-time, Rock’s cultivated Southern aesthetic is one of the city’s sharpest, most literate sounds. And after this accomplished set, his enormous potential just won’t suffice anymore. Nothing short of him stepping up to full, shining actualization will.

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