Todd and Ryan Doyle have been singing together their whole lives, and it shows. The brothers come from a musical Buffalo family, and took to singing together in harmony as quickly as less musically inclined bros might have taken to full-blown sibling rivalry.
It was that core of brotherly vocal harmony that made their band, More Than Me, a major alt-pop draw in the region during its 10-year tenure, eventually earning the band top honors in the 2010 Hard Rock Calling contest and a slot playing before tens of thousands at the London Calling Festival held in London’s Hyde Park, a gig headlined by some guy the locals insisted on calling “Sir Paul.”
It was a bit surprising that, shortly after representing Buffalo on the world’s stage, More Than Me went on hiatus. The Doyle Brothers relocated to New York City where they set about honing a duo act that, just as their Facebook page suggests, blended the readily apparent influences of the Everly Brothers, fun. and Bruno Mars. The brothers assembled a body of songs to pull from that ran the gamut from Great American Songbook to present-day pop and R&B, with their own compositions figuring in the mix as well.
New York is home for the duo now, but Buffalo remains on its radar. Most recently, I caught the Doyles entertaining a packed VIP tent between sets at the Dave Matthews Band’s June appearance at Darien Lake. Charm, confidence, readily apparent talent and the ability to read a crowd worked in the Doyles’ favor on that night.
Now, the guys return for a headlining set at 8 p.m. Friday in Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar (253 Allen St.). Another uber-talented Buffalo musician, singer and songwriter, Anthony James DeRosa, will handle opening duties. Learn more about the Doyle Brothers’ recent activities through their Facebook fan page.
The heart of Wilkins
Well, they finally came up with a name for it. I wish I had done it myself. In fact, I spent years criticizing what I saw as its complete abandonment of its founding formal principles and its lusty eagerness to embrace the wholly shallow and occasionally dangerously dumb. But I never came up with “Bro Country.” Yeah. That nails it – this tendency to reduce all available lyric topics to pickup trucks, girls, girls in pickup trucks, guys in pickup trucks on the way to meet girls, and America. Oh well. A missed opportunity for me, then.
The thing is, by the time someone does coin a phrase to describe a musical subgenre, and the inevitable backlash against that subgenre begins, it usually means that a certain segment of the listening public is attuned to some music that, depending on your personal perspective, is superior to the stuff that’s been stuffed down our throats for so long. That’s a good thing. And may explain in part why we are seeing more venues like Buffalo’s Sportsmen’s Tavern emerging around the country, venues where country music and “Bro Country” have nothing in common – rooms where roots music, folk, Southern soul, bluegrass and standard singer/songwriter fare are all venerated. Where Merle Haggard’s name is mentioned in hushed tones, and Jason Aldean’s isn’t mentioned at all.
These rooms have provided a touring circuit for some songwriters who, while they aren’t exactly household names, are widely regarded within their milieu to be artistic geniuses – writers, players and singers doing the necessary work of reconnecting country music to its own roots.
Texan Walt Wilkins is one such artist. With his band the Mystiqueros, Wilkins has created an environment where serious musicianship, deeply literary songwriting chops and that laid-back but beautiful musical gait known to lovers of ’70s country and country-rock can intermingle freely.
Wilkins & the Mystiqueros have played the Sportsmen’s Tavern in the past. On Saturday, they’ll do so again, this time with some serious additions to the repertoire. Tickets, priced at $15 and available through the venue, are likely to go quickly. Show time is 9 p.m. Oh, and if you happen to see Mr. Wilkins, don’t call him “Bro.”