Last month, the Band of Heathens performed three songs from their new album on “CBS Sunday Morning,” a remarkable achievement for the fiercely independent, Austin-based band that has built and sustained a devoted and growing fan following over the past 18 years.
After the taping, group co-founder Gordy Quist caught Ron Sexsmith’s main stage show at New York’s City Winery. Quist was told the venue has its own instruments for bands to use, allowing them to cut down touring costs.
“I said we need to book a show here as soon as we can,” Quist said as he stood Monday night on the venue’s main stage with other members of the five-piece group.
Led by Quist and Ed Jurdi and with a large contingent of the group’s Good Time Supper Club members in the audience, the band performed seven of the 10 songs from its new album “Simple Things” in a scorching 110-minute show that served as a taster for a longer spring tour starting next month.
Described as a back-to-basics album, the songs on Simple Things fit seamlessly into the Band of Heathens catalogue, mixing the rich vocals of Quist and Jurdi with a full sound provided by Trevor Nealon on piano and organ as well as bass player Nick Jay and drummer Clint Simmons, who joined the group in 2022. Jay, in particular, impressed with his vocals and harmony.
As often happens with groups known for their live shows, new songs “Stormy Weather,” “Heartless Year,” “Don’t Let the Darkness,” “Long Lost Son” and “I Got the Time” grow and deepen when performed in front of a supportive audience. It also was nice to see Jurdi take over on piano to play the plaintive title track.
The rest of the 17-song set featured a mix of songs well known to fans of the group — “Jackson Station,” “Sugar Queen,” “All I’m Asking,” “Medicine Man,” and “L.A. County Blues.” The highlight: A scorching 12-minute “Look at Miss Ohio” that featured a great guitar duel between Quist and Jurdi.
Two of the last three songs — set closer “Hurricane” and encore finale “Should Have Known” — date back to the 2011 album “Top Hat Crown and the Clapmaster’s Son.” But it was a new song — the Beatle-esque “All That Remains” — that prompted another short thank you from Quist to the audience.
Quist noted that music “has saved the lives of each of us on this stage many many times, but never more than in the past few years.” He attributed that to the online community the Heathens formed through weekly Zoom shows during the pandemic, a group that has become so tight knit that members now meet in different cities where the band plays.
“We’re anxious to get this record out into the world, and we know how fortunate we are to play for audiences all around the world,” Quist said before the group launched into “All That Remains,” which, incidentally, has a crowdsourced video featuring photos of fans and their families.
Find more information and tour dates here: https://bandofheathens.com/
Enjoy our previous coverage here: Interview: Ed Jurdi of Band of Heathens