Austin has known its share of folk ensembles and punk bands. But not since East Cameron Folkcore arose four years ago from a working class northeast neighborhood has this town seen a band that blends the two genres so effortlessly and with such poise and purpose. And it’s a natural blend, since the two genres, while sonically disparate, have always been about expressing unrest. Both genres’ stages have been used as pulpits for populist pleas, from Woody Guthrie to Jello Biafra.
The 11-piece musical juggernaut continues the tradition with so much passion and confidence, it makes you wonder why more bands aren’t singing about the issues that East Cameron Folkcore rails against on their recently relesed sophomore album, titled For Sale. Before you press play, the album’s cover art hints at the political nature of the music, sporting a photo of the Texas State Capitol building with a for-sale sign pitched in the front lawn.
Meanwhile, the lyrics of primary songwriters Jesse Moore and Blake Bernstein touch on graduating college with lots of debt in a job-starved economy (“Sallie Mae”) and Americans being sent overseas to fight questionable wars against vague enemies (“Enemy of the Times”). Despite the heavy themes, the music itself never takes a backseat. Preaching never becomes more important that just writing a damn good song, whether it’s the intense confessional “Ophelia” or the swaying, sing-along folk of “Director’s Cut” with the refrain “I hope you know, we’re all going to hell” sung in unison by nearly all 11 members. If this band does two things well, it’s ballads and anthems.
For Sale hit stores this week, and on Friday, Feb. 8, the band is celebrating with a CD release show at the Scottish Rite Theatre in Austin. Far from your average show, this will be a multimedia performance that features projections and audio clips mixed with the band’s performance of the full album in its entirety. Guest musicians will also join the band for their set, including baritone saxophonist Joe Woullard of Black Joe Lewis and Hard Proof Afrobeat fame.
The openers are no slouch either, as one-man wrecking machine Possessed By Paul James will perform, as well as the self-described “Celtic bluegrass on heroin” quartet of Mockingbird Loyals.
Scottish Rite Theatre is located at 207 W. 18th St. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Tickets range from $10 to $20, depending on whether you choose general admission or balcony seating.
Watch the new music video for the band’s single, “Salinger is Dead” below.