In The Den: Baby Bee + Ponderosa
Friday, May 24, 2013 10:00 PM CDT
Howlin' Wolf, New Orleans, LA
18 years and over
Brothers Joe and David Stark teamed up to form the stripped down rock and roll duo Baby Bee in the fall of 2011. After recording an independent 7 song EP with producer Dave Cobb, the brothers quickly began earning a loyal following close to their home in South Louisiana. “We wanted to do a project with just us two, and really get back to the basics,” says lead singer and guitarist Joe. And Baby Bee does indeed get back to the basics, but with a musical sophistication that matches the the house on fire immediacy with which it is played. The sons of musician parents, and no strangers to boozy Mardi Gras parties, these brothers play their brand of music with one foot in the swamp and the other in a pool of infectious pop melodies. The band has an instinctual inclination to write songs with big choruses and a boogie beat that makes everyone want to move their feet.
In the low light of the hut the old man sat quietly puﬃng on his mapacho. “You must disengage from your…continuity,” he said, referring I’m sure to my earbuds, which, with apologies, I cranked. As I tapped the last drop out of the clay cup and laid back on the ragged foam mat I saw that the old man’s face was no longer his, but a hawk’s. The spirit-world comes on like that.
The music I came to see with my third eye, Ponderosa’s Pool Party, started with a voice, a silver highlonesome in a mist (or maybe the mist was the voice), an electric guitar that identiﬁed itself (verbally, and I’m translating here) as He-who-makes-things-sprout, then a convergence at something analogous to a rain dance, as if conducted (in lapis lazuli) by Keith Moon. Pianos and guitars and harmonies breathed into existence tetrahedrons, Spanish friars, bird-lions, machine elves, Quetzacotl, so forth, and landscapes, always the sweeping, rolling variety. No point going on about what the music looks like. To paraphrase the giant, blazing eye that cries honey, you must see for yourself.
Hearing Ponderosa’s previous album for the ﬁrst time was a no less illuminating experience if a very diﬀerent one, involving a trampoline, two bottles of rye, and a sack of possum. Another facet of Ponderosa, another method to ascertain its nature. That album, Moonlight Revival, belongs in the Southern rock canon as much as anything by the Crowes or Little Feat, but more crucial is that with it Ponderosa delivered the ﬁrst successful fusion of straight Southern rock and Revolver-era Beatles, utterly seamless and genetically sound, not a Frankenstein. This is the musical equivalent of mapping the genome, drunk, using only a monocle. Impossible, yet Ponderosa demonstrated that “a thing that cannot be done can be accomplished by not-doing it.” And because that sounded more conclusively relevant when it was told to me by a stag with no mouth, let’s add that Ponderosa’s clear m.o. is following its bliss.