By Freya Wilcox
While it may seem hard at times to find a little bit of country in NYC, sitting in front of a wall of cowboy boots and an army of plaid-clad staff in Chelsea’s Hill Country makes it easy to forget about the skyscrapers and parking meters waiting for you outside. And what better than a punk-grass, southern rock blues band to make an urban saloon seem like the best idea you’ve had in a long time?
On Saturday, the NYC five piece Hands off my Sister rose above the stench of beer and barbeque with an anachronistic flair for sexy, southern-style tunes to beat the country and blues at their own game. While all of the beats, licks, thumps, and moans of traditional country and blues sat there in place, a tip of the hat to stoner-rock, 70's pop and American rock’n’roll put a spin on things that left you hungry for whatever was coming next.
Ross Pederson’s punk approach to the drums took the audience by the throat while Paul Orbell’s quick-picked Jazzmaster danced on a rock solid rhythm and inspired an intoxicating groove in the room. But, what truly set the band apart was singer and guitarist Erin Sax as she swaggered, hollered, and moaned in front of the Lone Star backdrop like Joan Jett singing Johnny Cash.
A rockabilly cover of Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” ironically showed the quintessential style of the band: as Erin swung from her mic stand and the bass and drums held the fort, the meeting of traditional and contemporary served to take even haters of country on a field trip to Texas and home with a t-shirt. (Edit: Ironically, for those who haven't heard, the Boss is headed to Texas to give the keynote address at SXSW this Thursday, followed by an intimate show that'll be harder to get into than Jerry Jones' box at Cowboys Stadium.)
If you can’t handle an ounce of the South, these guys may not be your ideal night out, but if you love a heartfelt jive and a woman with attitude, “Hands off my Sister” are an act sure to fill your desire for country, rock’n’roll, and all things in-between.