Review + Photos | Newport Folk Festival Presents: Wheeler Brothers, The Ballroom Thieves, & Houndmouth @ The Royale Boston


[L]ast week a warm Southern breeze worked it’s way up through the Midwest and blew out the doors of the Royale here in Boston. On November 14th those lucky enough to know a stellar line-up when they see it were treated to a wild rumpus of a good time when the Wheeler Brothers and Houndmouth tour pulled into town. The two bands hit the road together two weeks ago and called upon local favorites The Ballroom Thieves to join in on the fun. The packed crowd expected to stomp their Boston boots and raise their beers in glory…and they did!

Austin, TX quintet Wheeler Brothers consist of three siblings Nolan Wheeler (vocals, guitar), Patrick Wheeler (drums), and Tyler Wheeler (bass), along with A.J. Molyneaux (guitar, killer lap steel, vocals), and Nathan Rigney (guitar, vocals). I moved to Boston from Austin back in 2007 and these boys brought back memories of warm southern nights, listening to bands playing lively sets on outdoor stages as the sun set over the hill country. The guys in Wheeler Brothers were having so much fun on the Royale stage it was infectious, and their charm and personality clearly helped win them a whole lot of new fans. They are currently touring in support of their second full-length album, Gold Boots Glitter, which was released this past April, and their opening set was based largely on the newer tunes. Starting things off with the fantastic track, “Heather,” the band got the crowd in motion quickly, and when they segued into the Jackson 5’s, “I Want You Back,” during their song, “Portraits,” they had every last straggler roped in. The Brothers ended their too short-a-set with, “I’ve Been Around,” one of the catchiest tracks this side of the Mississippi.

Boston’s soon to be bigger than sliced bread band, The Ballroom Thieves, were next to take the stage and were warmly welcomed by a crowd clearly on the up and up about the trio. Martin Early (guitar, vocals) and Devin Mauch (percussion, vocals) introduced their new cellist Calin Peters and set out to keep the momentum of the evening going strong. Given the strength of the Thieves stage presence, and the hip-shaking numbers, it is amazing that the band really just began in 2012 with the release of their debut, 5-song EP titled, The Devil & The Deep. They released a self-titled EP this past October and the set-list was comprised of songs from each fantastic album. From the foot stomping goodness of, “Down by the River,” to the glorious sing-along chorus of “Oh Oh Oh Oh/Let’s get out of here” on “The Callow & The Hale,” the Ballroom Thieves are making a solid case for best live band in Boston.

Headlining the night’s festivities belonged to Indiana four-piece Houndmouth who have been enjoying quite an upward momentum since the release of their debut full-length album, From The Hills Below The City, released in June of this year. After 2 rambunctious sets the final band of the evening would need to come out swinging to deliver the knock out, and the Houndmouth gang did not disappoint.  Songs were mostly off of their great new release and, despite the album only being a few months old, the crowd seemed to know every word. Favorites included “Krampus” and “Long As You’re At Home,” which were played back to back much to everyone’s delight. A cover of the Beatles, “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight,” was stupendous and the encore saw the Wheeler Brothers join in on another great cover, this time it was The Band’s, “I Shall be Released.” They sent us off into the night with a rousing version of “Coming Around Again” from the new album. A great time was had by all.

Check out the great photos our newest member of the Music Savage family, Mr. James Reiley, took for your viewing pleasure and click play on the Wheeler Brothers track “Straight and Steady” above for your listening pleasure.