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Amanda Jo Williams at the Echo on Monday April 4th, 2011

Amanda Jo Williams brings her little surrealistic south-western universe with her on stage, she and her musicians occupying the whole stage with all sort of paraphernalia which could evoke one of these busy bric-a-brac country stores found in the deep South, tambourine over cowboy boots, green and red jiggle bells, golden coins belly dance scarf above a drum, hanging wood signs with feathers,…. the freakish unique atmosphere was already present even before she played any of her original takes on Americana.

She has a residency at the Echo every Monday in April and last Monday she and her 5-piece band played songs with excited rhythms and whipping country beats reminding Johnny Cash, some honky-tonk-feet-tapping-all-along tunes, stretching with psychedelic parts at times. Her songs are populated by wild animals (she has a song called ‘The Bear Eats Me’ and another one ‘Keep the Animals’) and especially her completely crazy high-pitched voice that sounded like a Hillbilly Betty Boop. Since I generally hate women whom we are supposed to admire because of their vocal prowess, I was right away interested by someone who was not trying to have a cloned ‘nice’ voice, but was rather following her own path, doing it her own way, not afraid of the freaky.

With her Julia Roberts’ good looks (curiously they are both from Georgia), she sat down behind a large bass drum that she was tapping using her foot, while strumming her little ukulele-sized guitar, surrounded by 3 bearded male on bass and guitar, and two females on a toy keyboard, drum-percussion and vocals, both doing exhilarating dancing moves on many songs and having a lot of fun.

Their outlaw hippie-country beats were very contagious and soon I was surrounded by a band of young girls wearing cowboy hats, and attempting to reproduce the fashion and the moves seen on stage, a cult following if there was one.

She sang ‘Up the Mountains ‘ from her ‘Yes I Will Mr. Man’ 2006 release and many other ones like  ‘Light on’, ‘Keep the Animals’, ‘Morning Thunder’, ‘Nickel in my back’,  ‘Sunlight everyone’, ‘Sick and Dying’ and one I’m sure will figure on her upcoming album ‘The Bear eats me’, a weird, almost childish song with a creepy tone.

She will play 3 more Mondays at the Echo, and I’m sure she will bring each time her curious ambience, all enlightened by Topanga canyon’s hippie culture, a community where she now lives, with the help of her odd songs that could make you expect about anything, like seeing a raccoon coming out a dream catcher.

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