Mountain Stage: The Sweetback Sisters and Fitz & the Tantrums

Last night’s Mountain Stage concert featured Bearfoot, The Sweetback Sisters, Katie Costello, Fitz & the Tantrums and Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers.

Let’s be honest here. I really only went to the concert for The Sweetback Sisters and Fitz & the Tantrums. As vastly different as the two bands are, they were equally entertaining and provided the two most exciting sets I’ve seen in Mountain Stage in recent years.

Opening bluegrass band Bearfoot was also surprisingly good. I really wasn’t in the mood for bluegrass and was thus prepared to be bored by their music, but they won me over by the end of their first song. The highlights of their set were the haunting folk ballad “Eyes Cast Down” (co-written by Claire Lynch) and their “Boys II Men” acapella performance of “Billy.” Both songs are featured on Bearfoot’s new album, American Story.

The Sweetback Sisters’ new album, Lookin’ for a Fight, has been by far my most played album of the year and will most certainly be near (if not on) the top of my best of 2011 list. Their classic country inspired album is one of the most fun, catchy collections of songs I’ve ever heard and already makes me feel the affection and amusement of an old favorite album. I was amazed the songs sounded even better live.

The Sweetback Sisters are Emily Miller and Zara Bode and those gals were fierce, funny and absolutely fantastic on stage. Their performance of Lookin’ for a Fight‘s title track was especially feisty and their backing band, which includes West Virginian guitarist-fiddler Jesse Milnes, really tore it up on the cover of The Traveling Wilbury‚Äôs “Rattled.” It looked like they had as much fun playing the songs as much as we in the audience did hearing them.

Six-piece ensemble Fitz & the Tantrums’ mix of retro soul, electro-pop and crunchy garage rock also made for quite the lively set. Their electric and bombastic performance had the crowd clapping, singing along and dancing in the aisles. Fitz should really get singer Noelle Scaggs some backup dancers, that girl is a real live wire. Among the crowd pleasers in their set were “MoneyGrabber,” ” L.O.V.” and “Breakin’ the Chains of Love” from their new album, Pickin’ up the Pieces, and a funky soul cover of The Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams.”

Buy Bearfoot’s Music @ Amazon
Bearfoot Official Site

Buy The Sweetback Sisters’ Music @ Amazon
The Sweetback Sisters Official Site

Buy Fitz & the Tantrums’ Music @ Amazon
Fitz & the Tantrums Official Site

The Sweetback Sisters: Lookin’ for a Fight

The Sweetback Sisters will released their new album, Lookin’ for a Fight, on May 31st via Signature Sounds Records. The album is a delightful nod to vintage Western swing, honky tonk and classic Nashville country. Covers of songs originally recorded by legends like Patsy Cline are interspersed several new originals that fit right in.

The songs on Lookin’ for a Fight, particularly the spectacular backing harmonies, were inspired by and recorded in the one-mic style of records from the 1950s/1960s era of country music.

The album consists of seven new original songs by the band along with renditions of Patsy Cline’s “Love Me, Honey Do,” The Sons of the Pioneers’ “Cowboy Ham & Eggs,” The Traveling Wilbury’s “Rattled” and Hazel Dickens’ “Don’t Put Her Down.”

My personal favorites on the album are the swaggering title track and the cover of Dwight Yoakum’s “It Won’t Hurt When I Fall Down From This Bar Stool,” but the whole album is a toe tappin’, hip shakin’ wonder. I expect it to be on my best of the year list come December.

The Sweetback Sisters will play at The Empty Glass in Charleston, WV on May 27th.

Pre-Order @ Amazon

The Sweetback Sisters Official Site
The Sweetback Sisters MySpace