Thomas Wynn & The Believers have been touring pretty much nonstop since their latest album Brothers & Sisters was released at the beginning of this year, and Saturday night they were back in NYC at the Knitting Factory. This Southern rock band hails from Orlando, Fla., and in many ways embody everything authentic and raw about the swamp. One of the most standout aspects of their live show is the harmonies between bandleader Thomas Wynn, and his sister Olivia. Most of the time when they are singing, they’re both belting out the words from deep in their bellies, leaving absolutely no room to make a mistake. Singing out so loud and strong like that and being perfectly harmonized every time (because of their “blood harmony,” as Thomas puts it) in itself makes their show remarkable, but there’s even more jamming out and impressive solos to add to that.
They opted to leave out the more downtempo acoustic songs to focus more on rocking out for this set, along with throwing in a couple of new tunes. They played “Brothers & Sisters,” off their new album, towards the end of the set, which starts off with a familiar sounding drum beat before bass sneaking in, then guitar and blues harp breaking in. This song speaks to a general audience, but also most likely stems from the brother and sister roots of the band.
Songs like this one are so much more dynamic live, with longer guitar solos and more general jamming out. In this way Thomas Wynn & the Believers is very much like how Neil Young & Crazy Horse was, with a short lyrical verse followed by a long jam, brought back to a short lyrical verse, followed by a long jam, repeat. The whole time, the members of the band move like waves, rhythmically leaning forward and back like a call and response. Each member had their time in the spotlight as well, with Olivia starting a song off solo, their bass player getting down on the last song, and plenty of solos for Chris Bell on the blues harp; which he completely killed every time, but when he was playing looked like he really wanted to play guitar by the way he shredded a ghost axe. As for Thomas, he showcased all the right guitar gymnastics, southern style – i.e., stringing together some really wild licks with the guitar faces to go with them. Basically, Thomas Wynn & The Believers play music the way they feel it, accentuated by their southern roots and experiences growing up, and turn it into authentically affecting rock and blues.
Thomas Wynn & The Believers will be back in NYC this Tuesday, July 3rd at Mercury Lounge, and then they head back down south and west. View all dates and cities on their shows page, check them on Facebook, and look at some adorable photos and backstories of the Wynn siblings growing up on Olivia’s blog.