John Ralston at Little Munich, January 22
Photo by Monica McGivern

John Ralston at Little Munich, January 22

John Ralston
With Sam Friend, Evan Mui, Heavy Boots, and Chris Horgan
Little Munich, Lake Worth
Saturday, January 22, 2011

John Ralston and his pals not only poured their own hearts out Saturday evening but they brought and attracted many of the area's most talented musicians along for the rocking indie jam. It was all in support of Ralston's White Spiders EP Release Party -- keyword being party. Each musician added his or her unique story, blending nicely into a fondue of South Floridian

aural flavor.

Miami's Sam Friend played Lake Worth for the

first time on this night. The first thing you'll notice is his strikingly similar hair and features to legend Bob Dylan, which was only multiplied as much of his set was played with an acoustic guitar and harmonica. I was particularly impressed with the technical volume dynamics he used to keep the songs interesting. Opening with a bluesy-toned "High Hives," he maintained his promise to the crowd of "underselling and overdelivering" so that Lake Worth will be impressed by what Miami has to offer. During his last couple of minutes of his last song, a loud fuzz noise began emitting through the speakers. Although unplanned, it created a Wilcoesque white-noise-above-the-lyrics fashion. Afterward, Friend jokingly commented, "I think we may be on to something!"

Next up was Evan Mui, who first did a very impressive solo set. I could easily envision I was watching a movie in which a time-lapse relationship montage was unfolding. The music serves as the omnipresent background narrative. Walking through the cold, you feel a bit warmer having seen a glimpse of the ending, knowing that everything's going to be OK. The smooth monotone of Mui's vocal narrative tells you so. With Jesse Dalton (Black Finger, Grey and Orange) on drums, and Chris Horgan (Sweet Bronco) on guitar for "You're Gonna Make It Without Me," Mui highlights his ability to express a duality of comfort through detachment of emotion.

This was just the beginning of many "sit-ins" for the night. As the night moved forward, Mui had fellow guitarist, songwriter, and band member of "Heavy Boots" Bobby Yapkowitz join him on stage transitioning into a nice showcase of a wah guitar for the opener, "Just like Gold." Yapkowitz was another transplant like Friend, who was coming back from a city to play music here for a while.

After many transitions of performers and instruments, it was Chris Horgan's turn in the spotlight, even though by this point had spent plenty of time on stage prior to his set. If you read the New Times Q&A prior to the show, you'd know of Horgan's plan to introduce us to some new work. Chris played his whole set with an electricity and intensity that would never let on to doubts about the performance. The song "Astronaut" included Steven Copeletti (Sweet Bronco) on drums and was my personal favorite of the set.

Drummer Steven Copeletti
Drummer Steven Copeletti
Photo by Monica McGivern

It kept the party moving, and I saw several members of the crowd throwing their hands up and dancing along to the beat. Copeletti was also responsible for DJing between sets. His playlist made for a seamless transition even while including a mix from the Smiths to Stevie Wonder and Chicago to the Dead Kennedys.

Finally it was Ralston's turn to play. He used two drummers (Jesse Dalton and the Postmarks' Jonathan Wilkins), three guitarists (Dan Bonebrake, Andrew McAusland, and Chris Horgan), and other volunteers from the music scene to fill in as needed with backup vocals and tambourine playing. Joined by a plethora of musicians, he was able to make it through 16 songs before the bartender yelled for last call. After which he had time to talk to several people about the show and to sign CDs. So what did all of this add up to?

John Ralston and Jonathan Wilkins
John Ralston and Jonathan Wilkins
Photo by Monica McGivern

It's been stated by various local blogs that there's now a South Florida music "scene." I believe last night was just a taste of what is stirring, as the musicians of this scene progress toward the next natural step of blending sounds, if even for one night of an "All-Star Solo Show." In my experience, these particular musicians seamlessly highlighted each other's strengths while naturally showcasing their own. They are an example of team players involved purely for the passion of the "game."

Critic's Notebook

Better than: Staying home and buying band set lists on eBay. (Start your

own collection by getting them while the great artists are still local!)

Personal bias: Happy to see Robert Rutherford, AKA "Gingerman309," taking

video of the show. It was a night well-worth documenting!

The crowd:
Ages: Newborn to newly retired.

Personality: Best described by a random survey of five people walking in, each wearing completely opposite jackets:

Jacket 1: prickly wool flannel

Jacket 2: army green, military issue

Jacket 3: blue hoodie with burnt-out marks

Jacket 4: old denim

Jacket 5: almost transparent cotton flannel

Overheard: "I didn't expect it to play! I just pushed the button and it

turned on!" as Alabama's Country Music plays over the jukebox as the

unofficial (and accidental) beginning to the night.

Random detail: When disclosing to local musician Greg Lovell, of

Blackfinger, Grey and Orange, and Invisible Music fame, that I'd be writing a

review for the evening rather than just my normal photographing duties,

he responded, "Wait, isn't there a photographer-musician confidentiality

clause or something?"

Random detail #2: Thinking it would be "egotistical" to draw a photo of

him, Sam Friend enlisted the help of an acrylic artist for his Lady

Madly LP. The colorful artwork mostly painted in watercolor by him, sans

the portrait, was named several times by popular Beached Miami blog for

both artistic and musical merit in 2010. He spoke to me before the concert about seeing South Florida

as a "bridge" to bigger cities such as New York and Seattle. With so

much talent by way of this connecting Lake Worth-to-Miami bridge, the

area is quickly becoming a melting pot of sound.

John Ralston at Little Munich, January 22
Photo by Monica McGivern

Random detail #3: Lots of musicians stopping in for the night, such as

members of the Freakin' Hott, Viva Le Vox, former members of Summer

Blanket, and Ralston's old band Legends of the Rodeo, to name a


Sam Friend Set List:

1 High Hives

2 WIT's

3 One More Twice

4 Find Fine Light

5 Part of the Show

6 Maid of Water

7 At the Zoo

8 Learn to Drive

Evan Mui Set List:

1 Probably

2 Plein Air

3 Moving Away

4 Nighttime

5 You're Gonna Make It Without Me

Heavy Boots Set List:

1 Just Like Gold

2 He Ain't me

3 Crooked Pictures

4 Winter Sun

5 Caroline

Chris Horgan Set List: (song names subject to change)

1 All my Trials

2 Out for Blood

3 Astronaut

4 Afternoons

5 Ghosts

6 Tell Clementine

7 Thrasher

John Ralston Set List:

1 Bedroom Walls

2 Gas and Matches

3 When We Are Cats

4 It's Not Your Fault

5 Hang a Sign

6 I Believe in Ghosts

7 Gone, Gone, Gone

8 Secondhand Lovers

9 Fragile

10 Ghetto Tested

11The Only Evidence

12 White Spiders

13 Room With a View

14 Jenny, With the Long, Dark Hair

15 Bloodthirsty Angels and Terrible Trumpets

16 Don't Go to Sleep

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