Jon Dee Graham, Freedy Johnston and Susan Cowsill have united to form the Hobart Brothers & Lil’ Sis Hobart. The trio, backed by drummer Russ Broussard and bassist Andrew Duplantis, will make their live debut during SXSW week in a series of Austin appearances.
Susan, Jon Dee and Freedy found themselves huddled at last year’s SXSW to write a couple of songs reflecting on their early days washing dishes for a living, which all three had done (joining the ranks of such former dish-washing rock legends as Alex Chilton). The band name refers to the commercial dishwasher known to all aspiring songwriters.
The three members quickly realized that the Hobart Brothers was a good outlet in which to write songs about things they otherwise would not. From the initial summit came a collection of songs of joy and heartbreak that range from the sublime to the silly. Cowsill’s vocals, described by Rolling Stone as “a supple survivor’s alto,” blend beautifully with the roughhewn quality of Jon’s voice and Freedy’s sad tenor.
In May 2010 they recorded a CD, At Least We Have Each Other, at Top Hat Studios in Austin. The recording was cut in the lounge and kitchen area of the studio. The band was already rehearsing there, so engineer John Harvey set up the mikes around them and started recording. The finished album provides a rare glimpse of what three very unique and talented artists might come up with when they think no one else is listening. While the songs were recorded live with one or two takes, there is a resonant honesty and completeness to them. This CD is scheduled for release later in 2011....but only with the help from their friends and fans.
The Hobart Brothers will self-fund the release of At Least We Have Each Other through a creative kickstarter.com campaign. The money raised will pay for production, promotion, publicists, publicity materials, artwork and more. To learn more about the campaign, which has a goal of raising $10,000, and the rewards received for donating to the project, click here.
About the Hobart Brothers & Lil’ Sis Hobart:
Jon Dee Graham was named Austin Musician of the Year during SXSW in 2006. He was inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame three times: as a solo artist in 2000, again in 2008 as a member of the Skunks, and again in 2009 as a member of the True Believers. Graham has released seven albums and was the subject of a DVD called Big Sweet Life: The Songs of Jon Dee Graham. In August 2008, Graham underwent emergency surgery after being injured in a one-car accident. His current album is aptly title It’s Not As Bad As It Looks.
The New Yorker cited Freedy Johnston’s “finely wrought, melancholy character studies” as one of the calling cards of last year’s critically acclaimed Rain on the City album, his twelfth. According to SPIN, “Johnston’s characters always make a deep impression.” He has been recording since 1990’s debut The Trouble Tree on Bar/None. In 1994 he hit with “Bad Reputation” from his Elektra album This Perfect World, and Rolling Stone named him “Songwriter of the Year.”
Susan Cowsill was born into show business as a member of the Cowsills, who hit with “The Rain, The Park & Other Things” and “Hair” in the late ’60s. In the ’90s, she joined forces with Peter Holsapple and Vicki Peterson to form the Continental Drifters, and migrated from Los Angeles to New Orleans. In 2005 she released her first solo album, Just Believe It, concurrent with losing her brother Barry and her house to Hurricane Katrina. Her current album Lighthouse, called “an earthy, often crunchy folk-pop gem” by Rolling Stone, reflects upon these experiences and features guest spots from Peterson, Jackson Browne, and former Cowsills session player Waddy Wachtel.
Hobart Brothers & Lil’ Sis Hobart SXSW week schedule:
Wed., March 16, 2 p.m. —Guitartown/Conqueroo Kickoff Party, The Dogwood, 715 West 6th St.
Wed., March 16, 1 a.m. —Official SXSW Showcase, Speakeasy, 412D Congress Ave.
Thurs., March 17, 3 p.m. —Jovita’s Twangfest, 1619 South First St.
Fri., March 18, 4 p.m. — Bug Music Day Party, The Continental Club, 1315 S. Congress Ave.
Sun., March 20, 5:15 p.m. Olivia South Austin Fried Chicken Revival, 2043 S. Lamar Blvd.
Sun., March 20, 10:30 p.m. —G&S Lounge North Coast Music, 2420 South 1st St.