Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry: The HillBenders: Hill Country BBQ 17 January 2016

Peter saw this on the Hill Country BBQ site and it seemed like it would be a lot of fun. rtb joined us on Sunday night for some more bbq and music.

This time we knew the score when it came to ordering the food and drink. But we were thrown a curve when we were told that there were no waiters downstairs (where the music is) and we’d have to order our drinks and get our silverware from the bartender. It went smoothly even though we had to go to the bus station ourselves to get our silverware. Apricot rubbed duck breast was one of the specials – it was delicious.

The HillBenders is a great bluegrass band and Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry is their latest album. The band is Gary Rea (electric bass), Mark Cassidy (banjo), Jim Rea (guitar), Nolan Lawrence (mandolin), and Chad Graves (dobro). The evening begins with an announcement telling a little about Tommy and all its incarnations. After the original recording by The Who, there has been an album with guest stars, a movie, and a ballet. The band enters and plays the Overture. The HillBenders didn’t play the entire album and moved the story along with narration by the band. Jim Rea and Lawrence handled most of the lead vocals with the rest of the band filling in with background vocals. Cassidy picks a mean banjo and Graves was shredding the dobro. Graves got on his knees a lot and Cassidy joined him at one point and both would go up to the front of the stage and just blow us all away. Lawrence is an excellent singer and could belt out even better than the old Roger Daltry. He also sang with a lot of emotion. Jim Rea was also very good in moving the story along and Gary Rea’s backbeat was very much appreciated.

We were all encouraged to sing along and sing along we did. It lasted less than an hour and after they finished Tommy they played “I Can See for Miles.” We did get an encore – Hayes Carll’s “Take Me Away” (written by Adam Carroll). I could have sat for much longer listening to the band and I would love to hear them play the entire opry.



By Carene Lydia Lopez