Saturday, August 31, 2013

Wild Ponies at Hill Country Barbecue + Market

Wild Ponies is a trio based out of Nashville, Tennessee, with Doug Williams on guitar and vocals, Telisha Williams on standup bass and Jake Winebrenner on drums. After experiencing abuse and recovery in their native Virginia, the Williams spent a year on the road as drifting troubadours, living in their recreational vehicle. The two ultimately settled in Nashville, where they integrated into the local music scene and recorded two albums as an acoustic folk duo, Doug & Telisha. The Williams also began co-hosting a weekly East Nashville Song Salon songwriting group and a local radio show, “Whiskey Wednesdays.” Recently, the duo recruited Winebrenner and became Wild Ponies. The band’s debut album, Things That Used to Shine, was inspired largely by the healing process from the sexual abuse suffered by Telisha; it becomes available on September 10.

At Hill Country Barbecue + Market tonight, Wild Ponies brought a taste of genuine Nashville, but with a slight twist. This was not the syrupy stuff that happens in recording studios, but the raw country that happens when singer songwriters remain honest. The mix of vocal leads proved engaging, like a 1990s-style alternative version of Johnny Cash and June Carter; Doug was more of a brooder and sometimes sounded a bit on the dark side, while Telisha was bouncier and lighter. Doug is a fine rock and country guitarist and Telisha ably met the formidable challenge of simultaneously playing upright bass and singing. Wild Ponies seemed to specialize in murder ballads. Towards the end of the set, a couple came forward from the audience to dance; unpredictably, that song was in 7/8 measure, creating a bit of confusion on the floor. Yes, these ponies are a bit on the wild side.