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The Civil Wars

Submitted by MBergeron on January 17, 2012 – 11:18 pmOne Comment

A year ago few people outside of a small circle of friends had heard of The Civil Wars. The group composed of singer songwriters Joy Williams and John Paul White performed in January at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and on the Tonight Show with their first full length album Barton Hollow coming out the next month. Previously Williams and White had released an EP (Poison and Wine) and a free internet recording titled Live at Eddie’s Attic.

The release of Barton Hollow was anything but a fluke. The recording sold heavily the first week (over 25,000 copies) and stayed at number one on the iTunes chart for over a week, no small accomplishment in the era of digital delivery.

Their multiple appearances at SXSW 2011 resulted in White losing his voice right before a series of sold out shows in Houston at the Mucky Duck. Staying true to their fans The Civil Wars rescheduled a couple of months later arriving in style courtesy of a thousand dollar a week tour bus. While those subsequent three shows at the Duck went over successfully that small venue could only hold about 150 people for each show.

In contrast when The Civil Wars appear in Houston this Friday, January 20 they’ll be playing to ten times that amount of people downtown at the Wortham Center. The show is currently sold out.

The magic of Civil Wars comes in their dynamic interpretation of their songs. The quiet sections are literally so soft you can hear the proverbial pin drop. Likewise the stronger rhythm parts, White strumming on guitar and Williams playing piano, are loud enough to rock the house. Among their repertoire the songs “20 Years” and “I’ve Got This Friend” instantly catch your ear and stay in your head. Their cover of “Billie Jean” weaves harmonic vocals in a way that positively reinvents that tune. It’s this simple - The Civil Wars provide one of the best live performances you could hope to see. Opening up are The Staves.

- Michael Bergeron

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