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Some bands are content to remain within the rigid confines of their musical comfort zones. The Chubby Knuckle Choir is not one of those bands. Nobody gleefully shatters genre boundaries like this frenetic foursome, who play everything from bongos to banjos onstage.

The Chubby Knuckle Choir officially formed in 2009 in Bastrop, Texas, a town which each band member has called home at one time or another. The band is made up of Slim Bawb, Perry Lowe, Tres Womack, and Rory Smith, singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists who all come from varying musical and geographical backgrounds; the result is a freewheeling live sound which blends country, bluegrass, R&B, and swamp blues. “It’s a marriage of all genres,” explains Lowe, who plays guitar, drums and keys, and contributes vocals, while Smith describes it as “folk music from a country that isn’t around … but should be.”

In the past five years, this creative group has earned comparisons to acts like The Gourds, the Wood Brothers, and Asylum Street Spankers, and has steadily built a dedicated fan base that’s drawn to the Choir’s joyful noise. In 2014, the band was awarded the Bugle Boy Talent Trust, which assists promising, up-and-coming artists (previous recipients include Grammy-nominated Americana singer-songwriter John Fullbright). They also appeared on syndicated radio show “Real Life, Real Music” and television program “Songwriters Across Texas,” bringing their eclectic sound to a whole new audience.

Now based in Austin, the Chubby Knuckle Choir is currently preparing its debut album, Reveille (the title being a sly nod to Bugle Boy), which is slated for release on March 10, 2015. Recorded live in Austin’s Congress House Studio and produced and engineered by Andre Moran (Hot Club of Cowtown, Eliza Gilkyson), the record sizzles with the high-spirited energy of a Chubby Knuckle live show. The band plans to celebrate Reveille, which includes guest appearances by Glenn Fukunaga and Sons of Fathers’ David Beck, with a album release tour as well as make its second appearance on “The Texas Music Scene,” a regionally produced TV music series hosted by the legendary Ray Benson (performing first on the show in 2013).

Although their live shows are an exhilarating, sweat-drenched blast, The Chubby Knuckles’ songwriting cannot be overlooked. The members prove their writing chops on standout tracks “Black Motel” and “Trouble,” which is reminiscent of Ray Wylie Hubbard’s music. Songs like “Undone” take introspective looks at political, religious, and social frustration, while “Gone,” written by Womack and sung by Lowe, is a heartbreaking true story about a young husband and father who loses his wife to cancer.

While other musicians stay beholden to genre and specific song arrangements, The Chubby Knuckle Choir’s music changes with every performance. It’s this spontaneity and constant willingness to experiment musically that makes them one of the most unique and compelling bands in Texas today.


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