FRI. OCT. 4, 2002
If you go to the Continental Club Saturday night there is an excellent chance that Monday morning you will be using divine expletives with workday water cooler crowd – things like “Oh my God!” and “Holy shit!” You’ll be talking about Ed Hamell and Beaver Nelson, of course, two songwriters who have been lingering on the margins of commercial success for the better part of the last decade, and rightfully so. Both are too insightful, truthful, and talented to be homogenized in the corporate grist. Their styles are wildly divergent. Hamell is an upstate New Yorker who favors hard-driving, machine gun-like rock rhythms played solo on an abused acoustic guitar. His songs are lyrically dense with catchy hooks and verses that often lapse into outright spoken word. Sporting a shaved head that places him somewhere phrenologically between Uncle Lester and Howie Mandell, Hamell pounds through a frenetic, sweaty setlist that ranges from hilarious to horrifying and all points in-between. Nelson, in contrast, is the quintessential shaggy haired, soulful troubadour, half angst, half optimist, who has an uncanny ability to paint the big picture with small strokes. Nelson’s songs are patiently paced, cleanly arranged and roomy enough to nicely frame his high, nearly raspy vocals. Both songwriters got their fist big break here in Austin: Hamell, at the now-defunct Electric Lounge and Nelson at the equally defunct Chicago House. Both venues are legendary in their own right if only for the fact that these guys are their legacy. Luckily for you, the Continental Club is picking up where they left off.