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Rev Room will rip open Lucero Family Christmas

By Sean Clancy

This article was published December 20, 2012 at 3:40 a.m.

lucero

Lucero

— Christmas with a Lucero touch, that’s what’s happening Friday at Little Rock’s Rev Room as the Memphis country rockers return for a night of song and revelry. Dubbed the Lucero Family Christmas 2012, the show also features opening act Jimbo Mathus and The Tri-State Coalition.

The show caps a busy 2012 for Lucero, whose lead singer/guitarist/songwriter Ben Nichols grew up in Little Rock. The band’s 11th album, Women & Work, a fresh collection of the band’s signature soulful, country-inflected rock ’n’ roll, was released in March on ATO Records and has become the group’s most successful record, debuting in the iTunes Top 20 downloads upon its release.

After celebrating Christmas in Little Rock and at a Saturday show in Memphis at Minglewood Hall, the band heads to Brooklyn for two shows and will celebrate New Year’s Eve in Montclair, N.J. And then, well, there’s more touring, pretty much right through the spring. Such is life in a working band.

NEXT QUESTION

“I’m never any good at answering that,” says guitarist Brian Venable, speaking from his Memphis home. It’s the end of a quick interview and he’s been asked if there’s anything he’d like to add that wasn’t covered in the interview. “Everybody always asks that and I’m never sure what to say. Buy the record. Come to the show. It’ll be a good time.”

It’s the end of a conversation that has covered, among other things, Lucero’s recent European tour and thoughtsabout a possible live album.

“We’ve been there a couple of times,” Venable, who married his longtime girlfriend Samantha back in September, says of the band’s November trip to the United Kingdom and points beyond. “Some places haven’t quite caught on, but in other places it’s pretty amazing. We’re a lyric-based band, so it’s kinda hard sometimes when the language is different. We’ve played in Germany and Spain and they just want to hear the fast ones, but in England we go over real well.”

For a pack of road dogs such as Lucero, is there any chance of a live album?

“There’s always talk,” Venable says. “I’d like for fans to be able to get shows from the night before online. But at some point we may do a two- or three-night stand and record it. We could announce to fans to come down and get loud. That’s how Lynyrd Skynyrd and Peter Frampton broke. We’re known so much as a live band, that might be what it takes.” WHITE BUFFALO

Mathus is also no stranger to Little Rock crowds. The self-proclaimed “son-in-law of Arkansas” (his wife, Jennifer, is from Jonesboro) and his Tri-State Coalition are gearing up for the release of White Buffalo, the band’s first album for Fat Possum, which is scheduled to hit shelves and the usual digital outlets Jan. 22.

Produced by Eric “Roscoe” Amble (Steve Earle, Blue Mountain), the album is a slight tweaking of Mathus’ Southern amalgam of rock, blues, country, gospel and just about everything in between.

White Buffalo seems to have a more accessible Southern rock/pop feel, especially on songs like “In the Garden,” “(I Wanna Be Your) Satellite” and the gritty title cut.

Mathus, speaking from his Taylor, Miss., home, credits Amble’s influence on the album’s sound and feel.

“He was really able to get to a lot of the essential arrangement ideas that he wanted. He just had us come in and play our thing and play live in the studio. He picked the songs. He said, ‘I only want to do 10 songs.’ He pulled a lot out of us.”

Was it hard for a guy like Mathus, a co-founder of the Grammy-nominated Squirrel Nut Zippers and who has toured with blues legend Buddy Guy, to give up that kind of control?

“I don’t have a problem with giving up control to someone that I trust,” he says. “It’s easy to trust a good producer when I know what he is trying to do. [Amble] brought a new excitement and energy.”

Mathus was determined to improve the production values of the new album, which meant he’d need more money than his usual self-financed efforts. So he turned to Kickstarter.

Mathus used the online pledge system to raise about $16,000 to help pay Amble’s salary and for production of the album.

“It changed my life. It really did,” Mathus says about the campaign.

Lucero

Opening act: Jimbo Mathus

and The Tri-State Coalition

9 p.m. Friday, The Rev

Room, 300 President

Clinton Ave., River Market

District, Little Rock

Tickets: $21 advance, $26

day of show

(501) 823-0090

revroom.com

Weekend, Pages 34 on 12/20/2012

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