On any given night in Austin you can walk down 6th street and find a half-decent bar with live music to enjoy while partaking in your drink of choice; mine being a whiskey straight or LSD (Lone Star) when I’m particularly destitute. Tuesday, June 20th, I was fortunate enough to find myself at The Parish, an unanticipated oasis amongst the debauchery that I’ve come to expect from Dirty 6th, for the sold out ZZ Ward show.
Opening the night was quartet of family rockers hailing from Nashville, Tennessee rightfully named The New Respects. This group boasts not one but three powerful female leads in twins Alexandria and Alexis Fitzgerald and cousin Jasmine Mullen, backed by the equally talented Darius Fitzgerald.
The New Respects bring a unique sound, a mesh of folk-rock and soul with hints of gospel that immediately won the hearts of the Austin crowd, who had clearly not expected such grandeur from the opening act, with their energy and stage presence. I repeatedly witnessed members of the audience turn to one another questioning who these talented, young and black artists were in absolute amazement; some even breaking away to purchase something from The New Respects’ merch table. Having recently released their second EP, Here Comes Trouble, in March of 2017 under Credential Recordings, The New Respects have already created a buzz with such singles as “Money” and “Come As You Are”.
The headlining ZZ Ward took the stage to a jam-packed venue, even with air-conditioning, had begun to remind me of the warm streets outside The Parish. No stranger to the Austin music scene, ZZ was received with a well-deserved chorus of applause mixed with the hoots and hollers of longtime fans.
Playing hits from her debut EP, Til the Casket Drops, released in 2012 and singles from her soon to be released second studio album, ‘The Storm’, Texas let ZZ Ward know just how cherished she is in the Lone Star State. A blues-rock singer-songwriter with a gift, surely practiced and earned, of vocal and lyrical excellence she has found a home in the country-blues, folk-rock, and pop demographic; gaining traction with every passing day with catchy songs such as ‘Help Me Mama’, ‘Put the Gun Down’, and my personal favorite the bluesy “Cannonball’ featuring the Fantastic Negrito.