October 22, 2010

CD Review: The Roving Gamblers

“Just take my hand, let’s get out of this place. We’ll go somewhere far where there’s room and a space to run, run, run.” - Run

The Roving Gamblers
The Roving Gamblers

If you’re a fan of Austin-based children’s television stars The Biscuit Brothers, you’ll likely dig The Roving Gamblers. Why? Because The Roving Gamblers are Jerome Schoolar, Allen Robertson, Damon Brown, and Brad Shelton – aka the actors/musicians who have spent the last two decades portraying characters on the Austin-based Emmy Award Winning PBS series.

Don’t worry though. It should only take you 2-3 songs to forget that the voice you hear on the debut album of The Roving Gamblers is the same as that of Dusty Biscuit. This is a good thing… because the fourth song is called “I Like To Drink.”

I sat down with Jerome Schoolar, lead vocalist of The Roving Gamblers, last week. He explained that this CD is a collection of the music the band has written over the last 20 years and played during sound checks. While the instrumentation and vocals may sound similar to The Biscuit Brothers (duh…it’s the same band), the songs are for the parents… not the kids. This is a mixed bag of country, swing, and a little humor thrown in there for good measure.

Dusty Biscuit and Jerome Schoolar

It’s a 42-minute journey into the songbook of Schoolar and company. By and large, these are songs about love and life. They keep positive and are really a fun listen.

The album kicks off with a nice two-step worthy love song entitled “Dance A Million Miles.” It continues with some great harmonizing on “Playing With Fire” which is a track about the type of girl most men chase, but few keep. There’s also the blues-infused “Marry Me,” the escape-with-me ballad “Run,” and the reassess your life track “The Plans You Made.”

Now, the track that I alluded to earlier. “I Like To Drink” is a classic country swing that takes a humorous approach to a place where most adults have been. “I like to drink. But the drinking, it don’t like me. I like a shot, but I can’t stop and two or three.”

My favorite track on the CD is “Lucky One.” I can see contemporary country stations playing this one. It’s definitely got a hook, great harmonies, and is an easy one to sing. “I am a lucky one. I am a fortunate son. I have a place in the line, I’m doing just fine. I’ve already won.”

Now, there is a kitchy fun song that reminded me what these musicians do as day jobs… the ragtime-infused “Charleston When I'm 90” is a nice little ditty about dancing away your senior years.

The album ends on a nice note with “Better Man” which is a song celebrating the thing all guys strive to be when we meet our other half.

Several of the tracks evoke an 80s country sound to them, which makes me think The Roving Gamblers could find a musical home in Austin at places like The Broken Spoke, Poodie’s Hilltop Roadhouse, and Continental Club. I could see a “Roving Happy Hour” being a nice draw if these guys decide to make this double musical life a mainstay. They definitely have the talent, and based on this CD, they’ve got the songs as well.

Schoolar explained the sales from this CD are going to go entirely into The Biscuit Brothers’ Project, meaning they are using this band as a fundraiser to make the next season of the PBS show a possibility.

But, don’t expect The Roving Gamblers to play anything from the “Magical Music Farm” when you head to Central Market (38th & Lamar) Sunday, October 24, 2010 at 6p for their CD release celebration (which doubles as The Roving Gamblers’ debut concert as well).

Oh, and if you want to bring the kids, don’t worry, Schoolar promised they wouldn’t be playing the drinking song at this show.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My heart raced the moment I found this CD in my mail box. I had listened to samples of this music on Roving Gamblers webpage. I liked every song on this CD. It is in the first slot of my CD player in my truck. I just love it. Thank you for sharing your talent....