IF YOU GO
What: Nightfall concert featuring Wheeler Brothers
When: 8 p.m. Friday, July 12; Birds With Fleas opens at 7 p.m.
Where: Miller Plaza, M.L. King Boulevard and Market and Cherry streets
Cary, N.C.-based Birds With Fleas was formed in the spring of 2012 when Matt Siegel (vocals, ukelele, banjo) released his first full-length album, "The Campfire." To expand his reach, he called up friend Spencer Karges to add guitar and vocals. Completing the group are Stephen Smith (drums, percussion, vocals), Denver Davis (bass, vocals) and Kelsey Stoner (piano, vocals).
A band that has opened for The Avett Brothers and swept the Austin Music Awards at the 2012 South By Southwest Festival is this week's Nightfall headliner. Wheeler Brothers will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, July 12, following an opening set by Birds With Fleas at 7 p.m.
Making music is a family affair for Wheeler Brothers. The Austin, Texas, quintet features Nolan Wheeler (vocals, guitar), Patrick Wheeler (drums), Tyler Wheeler (bass), A.J. Molyneaux (guitar, lap steel, backup vocals) and Nathan Rigney (guitar, backup vocals).
Their second full-length album, "Gold Boots Glitter," a mix of rock, folk, roots, Americana and blues, follows 2011's critically acclaimed "Portraits." The band was on the road supporting that debut when "Gold Boots Glitter" began to take shape.
Holed up in a Wichita, Kan., hotel for two blisteringly cold days in early 2012, the guys began sharing ideas for what would eventually become their next batch of tunes.
"That was when we really started working together on music," remembers Nolan Wheeler in the band's bio. "It was freezing outside, so we bunkered down and got to work on some songs. This album truly began out there on the road."
They returned to their ranch in the Texas hill country to record. The secluded site an hour outside of San Antonio afforded a respite from the hustle and bustle of touring.
"There's just something about removing yourself from the city and getting out into the country," Wheeler says. "Nobody's cellphone worked. We had to climb up a mountain to get service, but it was so beautiful. We were able to fully immerse ourselves in the process."
They enlisted Austin singer/songwriter Drew Smith for his production talent behind the board. Together, they fine-tuned the band's signature sound as they cut everything live in unison.
"It was our first time collaborating with a producer," Wheeler says. "His background resembles ours. He understands mixing genres and implementing different elements into one thing. We have similar personalities, and we were all working toward the same thing."
"Portraits" had already gained the band multiple honors at the Austin Music Awards. Among them: Best New Band, Best Roots Rock Band, Nolan Wheeler for Best Acoustic Guitar, Tyler Wheeler for Best Bass, and Molyneaux for Best Miscellaneous Instrument for lap steel. Their label, Bismeaux Records, was named Best Local Label.
In addition to SXSW and "Austin City Limits," the band has gained national attention with an appearance on "Last Call With Carson Daly" and events including Firefly and the upcoming Lollapalooza and Newport Folk Festival. They've earned critical acclaim from Rolling Stone, Paste magazine, AOL Spinner, The Washington Post, Elmore Magazine and The Austin Chronicle, to name a few.
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