Review and Photos by Holly Jee
There's a number of pivotal groups in the past that have put Austin, Tx on the map, and ten years ago if you were to ask anyone which act came to mind when they thought of the Live Music Capital, you'd get a variety of answers. But Austin's got a new golden child: Black Pumas.
There's something absolutely magical and extremely rare about this band's journey. Much like crafting the perfect Old Fashioned cocktail, the base begins with a fine bourbon, and that's Grammy Award-winning guitarist and producer Adrian Quesada. The Luxardo? Undoubtedly singer Eric Burton.
The joining of the two is nothing short of divine intervention. Burton, whose background in gospel and musical theatre shines like a beacon of light through his tireless live performances, spent his adulthood busking on the Santa Monica pier and along the western states before (lucky for us) settling in Austin. Quesada had recorded some instrumentals in his studio and searched all corners of the country and beyond seeking the perfect pairing in a vocalist, but none seemed to mix well for that perfect sip until a mutual friend introduced the two, and Black Pumas was born.
Flash forward to 2019 Black Pumas — deemed “the breakout band of 2019” by NPR’s Here & Now, and winner of "Best New Band" in this year's Austin Music Awards, have released their highly anticipated self-titled debut album which catapulted the group from "local phenomenon" to "jet-setting headliners", winning over fans from coast to coast, and even selling out tour dates overseas.
More recently, the band has celebrated their success by paying tribute to Austin ahead of their world tour with a handful of hometown performances, including a highly-attended free in-store performance at End of an Ear Records, three completely sold out dates at Mohawk, and finally, a taping at the illustrious Austin City Limits. You'd be hard-pressed to find any local act with this level of prestige after only releasing their debut album, but its well-deserved.
If you're fortunate enough to see the band live, you're guaranteed to be gobsmacked by Burton's explosive presence, style, and energy seemingly possible only by having sold his soul at "the crossroads". The band's perfect blend of adventurous, bad boy folk-rock paired with classic Motown rhythms and backing vocals take you on a ride through what feels like Tarantino's next neo-noir crime film.
Black Pumas are a stiff drink, no doubt.
Catch them at one of the band's many tour dates globally throughout 2019.