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Goodnight, Texas gets on the map

Great Scott, Boston, September 9, 2014

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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Goodnight, Texas is a town with a small population - 28 according to the band's web site. So, if anything is going to put the unincorporated dot on the map, it may be the bi-coastal country band that stole the name.

Avi Vinocur, who dwells in San Francisco, and Patrick Dyer Wolf, of North Carolina, are the mainstays of the band with them trading off on lead vocals between and during songs and also doing the duet thing very well. The emphasis early on was the brand new and very fine "Uncle John Farquhar" CD with the bouncy "Hayride" and "A Bank Robbery's Nursery Rhyme."

Vinocur and Wolf both capably handled lead vocals in what proved to be an easy-going, but satisfying show. It helped that the songs contained strong imagery, such as "Jesse Got Trapped in a Coal Mine" where Vinocur sang about Jesse never being able to marry his sweetheart. He was equally strong on the slower "I Just Can't Stop Leaving Town," a tale of loss.

But the highlight may well have been "Dearest Sarah," which Vinocur said was taken from letters written by a Civil War soldier to his wife where he expressed the fears of war and possibly giving his life for his country. Vinocur made it clear that the letters hit him hard when he first heard them on Ken Burns' "Civil War" documentary, and he underscored that with his heart-on-his-sleeve delivery.

The sound was stepped in country, although folk was also part of the mix on some of Wolf's songs, and the sonics were heavier elsewhere. Wolf spiced the songs with his ample banjo playing, while his sidekick tended to acoustic guitar (Wolf did on occasion) and mandolin. With drummer Alex Nash and electric bassist Scott Padden accompanying them, Goodnight, Texas sure got a lot of volume out of their instruments, although the vocals never were drowned out.

Goodnight, Texas played to dozens on this late night in a small, intimate club, but if they didn't put the teeny town on the map, at least they made a name for themselves as a band.