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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Silos @ Shank Hall

Sunday, June 8, 2008

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  As leader of The Silos, Walter Salas-Humara has been recording since the mid-’80s, working on more than a dozen albums with collaborators as diverse as Alejandro Escovedo and, in an upcoming project, novelist Jonathan Lethem. At Sunday’s Shank Hall show, Salas-Humara led a band made up of Milwaukee and Madison musicians.

  This January The Silos’ bassist/lap steel player Drew Glackin died unexpectedly from complications due to a thyroid condition. So for a recent trio of Midwest dates, the deputized Silos lineup included guitarist Mike Hoffmann, drummer Brian Barney, bassist Johnny On Washday (all from Milwaukee’s Guido’s Racecar) and keyboardist Jeff Muendel (from Madison’s Motor Primitives).

  Although the group had limited rehearsal time, Sunday’s set nicely surveyed The Silos’ history and rocked things up a bit.  After opening with an excellent “Keeping Score” from Fast Lane,the lineup also did a stunning job with the gritty, Dylan-esque “People Are Right” and the hard-hitting “Tell Me You Love Me.”

  Propelled by Hoffmann’s chunky riffage, Salas-Humara took several opportunities to engage in short guitar duels. In particular, the classic “Tennessee Fire” developed into squalls that suggested an altogether different take on The Allman Brothers, with Muendel’s organ fills creating an extra dynamic. “Commodore Peter” allowed Barney and Washday to stomp out a rhythm that recalled Harvest-era Neil Young, and the anthemic “I’m Over You” culminated with a tidal-wave crescendo that sent the band crashing in for the finale.

  Cleverly contrasted covers of The Modern Lovers’ proto-straightedge song “I’m Straight” and Michael Hall’s “Let’s Take Some Drugs and Drive Around” offered the band a chance to jam on differing philosophies. Ultimately, for a band like The Silos, it’s been a long journey—and as Salas-Humara well knows, to quote his own lyric, “only a fool is keeping score.”

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