Uncle John, R.I.P.
As Texas blues-rock legend “Uncle” John Turner recently fought for his life and hoped for a much-needed liver transplant, his friend Jerry Clayworth, music promoter at Sam’s Burger Joint, offered him encouragement by suggesting that he would pencil in a late-2008 date for Turner to perform at Sam’s. By that point, Clayworth hoped, Turner would receive his transplant and have time to fully regain his old strength.
Sadly, time ran out on Turner. The 62-year-old drummer passed away in Austin on Thursday, July 26, on the eve of Austin and San Antonio benefit concerts organized to assist him with his medical expenses.
Turner left behind countless indelible performances, but his importance can be explained by two key items in his résumé: He performed at Woodstock in 1969 with Johnny Winter; after leaving Winter, he formed a blues band called Krackerjack with a teenage Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Funds raised at Clayworth’s benefit for Turner, scheduled for Tuesday, July 31 at Texas Pride Barbecue, will now help with the cost of Turner’s funeral and any outstanding expenses he incurred.
The Islands and the Sea’s Saturday, July 28, set at Voodoo Lounge proficiently balanced their minimal, though dense, song constructions. Each branch of the triad was sturdy with exploration and intent to push their instruments to limits just outside those of traditional rock, while still working within the confines they’ve created.
Viri Rivas on bass was industrious and loud, but always consonant with Mario Prejo (of Reader) on guitar and James Woodard (of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy), who smoothly shifted between drums and guitar.
Their approach was intentionally pragmatic, somewhat indulgent in the gradual build-ups within songs, and relied heavily on the guitars to reinforce a varied, lush timbre. Demanding of each other, and encouraging loudness and extension — in their own “post-rock” admission — The Islands have converged upon a sound created under no pretense. A throbbing pulse in the heart of a slowly progressing genre, their songs have definite textures, taking turns making the dense denser and the loud louder.
— Gilbert Garcia and Francesca Camillo