Chasing the wrong shadows?

Utrecht, NL, September 27th, 2019: Baer Traa and Garrett T. Capps provided for an evening filled with folk and country music – until something went decidedly wrong.

Baer Traa, the support act for Garrett T. Capps, walked on stage at 8.30 pm, just as the program said. The crowd at TivoliVredenburg’s Cloud Nine readily welcomed the singer/songwriter who calls soul, jazz and folk his home. Cut the jazz, increase the folk and add a soulful cover version of David Bowie’s »Space Oddity« – that is what Baer Traa offered the audience this Friday night. And they willingly accepted, praising the guitarist with sweeping applause.

Things heated up further when the evening elevated from a Dutch take on folk music to Garrett T. Capps’ (or GTC, the artist’s chosen abbreviation) country set. GTC, a chap from the Texan town of San Antonio, set out on tour earlier this year to promote his latest album »In the Shadows (Again)«. Dressed all in yellow, wearing a black cowboy hat and round, dark sunglasses with a silver frame, he calmly marched on stage. His five colleagues on drums, bass, electric guitar, trumpet, and synthesizer already expected him. »Cheers everybody, it’s good to be back here!« is how GTC greeted the audience as the band seamlessly boasted into the title track of the new album and tour. The band’s sound was round, full, and tight. It is no secret that GTC draws a lot of inspiration concerning lyrics and vocal style from Bob Dylan and the rather modern icon Sixto Rodriguez, commonly known as Sugar Man. His ways of slurring the lyrics and intonating particular syllables prove that.


Houston, we have a problem
Striking considering the band’s formation were trumpet and electric guitar – two instruments that are not commonly associated with country music. Their sounds enrichened the songs by giving them a fresh, modern twist. In a similar way, the synthesizer played its part in this providing atmospheric, sustained sounds that evoked images of the Texanian steppe. Sometimes, however, it had a very different effect. On ear-piercing frequencies, the band repeatedly included sci-fi aesthetics into their set. This makes sense, since GTC’s new mission is called »NASA country«. The musician is aiming to make country progressive, turning it into space country, as he proudly informed the audience: »We are the only Tex-Mex space country band in the whole world!« That is most certainly true, but does the music really profit from it?

It was palpable that exactly these »spacey«, instrumental passages were the ones tiring out the audience. Nobody seemed to really react positively to the monotonous, repeated synth sounds. On the contrary, they rather pulled down the cheerful mood the vocal passages had created. It just didn’t fit. Some people in the audience reacted to this by leaving early. Hence the question comes to mind: Why sacrifice flow and cheer for a new genre label? In the case of GTC, what started out really well unfortunately took a turn towards a wrong star.



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