The Sideshow Tragedy
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The Sideshow Tragedy

Austin, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2006 | SELF

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2006
Band Rock Blues

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"Eerie Jagged Noir Blues From Austin's Sideshow Tragedy"

For anybody who likes the idea of the Black Keys but finds them impossibly tame, the Sideshow Tragedy will not disappoint: they are the real deal. If dark twisted surreal country blues is your thing, this will hook you up for the duration. Frontman/guitarist Nathan Singleton took the entire blues dictionary, distilled it, lined it up down the bar and then did shots of it until he had the whole thing in his system. And then recorded this album, for the most part just with drummer Jeremy Harrell. It’s like the Gun Club, but more raw, or like Dylan at his most haphazard and interesting – and funny. Singleton’s wry sense of humor is a welcome change from all dese wotbo blueschillun who done take da blues so serious, uh huh – there’s none of that blackface BS here.

Another cool thing about this record is that aside from Martin’s jagged guitar on the haunting, Otis Rush-influenced fifth track, The Bet, the rest of the album is all Singleton. He’s a one-man blues army, sometimes wailing with a slide, sometimes fingerpicking, sometimes slashing and roaring as he builds a doomed, menacing ambience. The album’s opening track, AM in Chicago sets the tone, an evil, reverb-drenched roadhouse vamp over tumbling drums: “A structure fire in the tower of song, a prisoner’s wish before he’s gone.” That the Leonard Cohen reference isn’t absurdly out of place speaks for itself.

“If you won’t believe me, I’ll keep telling you lies,” Singleton smirks over tasty layers of steady, shuffling slide guitar on Gasoline, then adds a sly, funky edge that reminds of Jon Spencer on the pulsing Something to Do. If there’s anything here you could call a hit single, it’s the wickedly catchy Satellite, bringing in a rare, upbeat major-key vibe.

Vasseline is a swirling, Steve Wynn style desert rock stomp. The title track, a snide portrait of a status-grubbing groupie type, opens with bit of feedback, early 70s stoner metal throuth the prism of punk, and then goes scampering. The exasperated I’m Gonna Be Your Man has distant echoes of the early Yardbirds and cool reverb on the vocals and the drums. The album winds up with the menacingly swaying Long Way Down, a hypnotic Howlin’ Wolf style groove, resonator guitar carrying the brooding tune over a wash of eerie distortion. - New York Music Daily


""Persona" review"

"With equal parts poetry, grit, and screech, The Sideshow Tragedy sounds a bit like a punk band resurrected at some dusty crossroads. Listen closely and a train chugs and whistles along in the background, a lonely measure of distance." - Taos News


""Persona" review"

"Persona finds the band hitting its stride, with production and backing from members of Austin funk outfit T-Bird & the Breaks...balances Nathan Singleton's rumbling vocal tremble with guitar licks fitting for both a dark club or a back porch" - Austin Chronicle


""Persona" review"

"Persona finds the band hitting its stride, with production and backing from members of Austin funk outfit T-Bird & the Breaks...balances Nathan Singleton's rumbling vocal tremble with guitar licks fitting for both a dark club or a back porch" - Austin Chronicle


"Austin Live Weekly review"

"Only having two members in the band, it’s hard to believe how much noise comes forth from the blues-rock duo, Sideshow Tragedy. Frontman Nathan Singleton has the stage presence of Iggy Pop and Keith Richards combined, and he wields his steel guitar like a warlock, playing overdriven riffs with a feral intensity."

--Austin Live Weekly, 2013 - Austin Live Weekly


""One of the 10 Best Records by a Texas Artist in 2010""

1) KEVIN WELCH A Patch of Blue Sky (Music Road)

2) OLD 97'S The Grand Theatre Volume One (New West)

3) AUSTIN COLLINS & THE RAINBIRDS Wrong Control (Eight Dollar Music)

4) BRENNEN LEIGH The Box

5) 7 WALKERS (Response)

6) DARDEN SMITH Marathon (Darden Music)

7) ELIZABETH MCQUEEN The Laziest Girl in Town (Freedom)

8) THE BRIGHT LIGHT SOCIAL HOUR

9) COLIN GILMORE Goodnight Lane

10) THE SIDESHOW TRAGEDY (Nondescript) - The Austin Chronicle


"Live show review"

“this band was my favorite discovery last year. [...] Imagine nirvana’s virility, rawness, and power…but not nirvana’s music. Sideshow Tragedy is in the vein of indie rock– or more appropriately phrased, they are Nathan Singleton’s poetic songs plugged in, fleshed out, rocked out. holy fuck. even if you are a guy, you will get pregnant just being in the room. to witness these guys culminate energy is jaw-dropping...Nathan’s songs are lyrically well crafted and delivered with bona fide vocal gravel. these guys are rock and roll personified–do not miss them. and fasten your seat belt.” - Live Music Capital Radio


"Live Show Review"

"The music is tight and creative -- and the vocals are perfect."--DFW.com

- DFW.com


"Austinist recommendation"

"The Sideshow Tragedy churn out gritty, blues inspired barroom stompers that showcase spearhead Nathan Singleton’s vocal prowess, steel guitar wizardry, and penchant for telling a good tale."--The Austinist

- The Austinist


""The Sideshow Tragedy" review"

The Sideshow Tragedy's first two discs found them traveling from explosive to overblown. Their latest is a return to frontman Nathan Singleton's more melodic tendencies, combining Chris Whitley's blues and the Waterboys' anthems into something that's distinctive, dark, and ultimately uplifting. For the first time, the trio accurately captures their live show frenzy, and tunes such as "Metaphors of Madness" and "No Explanations" finally display the maturity and verve the bandmates have always had in them. --Jim Caliguri(3 and 1/2 stars) - Austin Chronicle


""Borrowed Guitars" review"

Like the unwieldy title of this debut, Nathan Singleton's music is a hodgepodge of ideas and sounds. Borrowing from a broad range of other artists can only work if you're either extraordinarily talented and/or possess the cojones not to care while spilling blood all over the place. While Borrowed Guitars owes most of its success to Singleton's attitude, his mix of Chris Whitley, the Waterboys, Dylan, and the Old 97's is unparalleled, at times joyous, otherwise hoary and dark. With producer Gabriel Gonzalez (ex-Sparta), the young Austin singer-songwriter has crafted a true album. Songs like the chugging "Prisoner" and the stifling gloom of "Cannibal Choir" are well at home in their surly blues and forlorn country. "After Love" meanders a bit, and closer "Prayer for a Woman" seems precious after what precedes it, but Singleton and company have created something that pegs him as a talent to watch. --Austin Chronicle - Austin Chronicle


"Live Show Review"

Nathan Singleton and his Sideshow Tragedy delivered a performance with so much verve and energy that words will not fairly describe it. The Austin-based band rocked the place with what might be called their own brand of punk-laced Texas rock, but don’t try and pigeonhole this band – their musical tastes are quite diverse. Singleton is an incredible guitar player, whose Dobro looked like it had logged a lot of Texas highway miles. Even the broken string (“luckily it was the high E, so it didn’t affect me much”) couldn’t slow the virtuoso, whose youthful appearance belies his road-warrior years. And the inappropriately named Sideshow Tragedy was anything but -- bassist Justin Thompson, active and rambunctious, was just as much an integral part of the show, and it was all held together by the strong, rhythmic beat of Singleton’s long-time musical accompanist, drummer Jeremy Harrell. In this set, the audience appeared almost stunned, as though they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Only the fact that the band was returning to Austin after 2 weeks of touring prevented a trip to see them again the following night. And once more, homage was paid to Matt White and White Water, as Singleton seemed very sincere in his praise of the venue as his favorite place to play, anywhere. - Littlerocklivemusic.net


"The Sideshow Tragedy @ The Triple 4/25/09- Richmond, VA"

The April 25th show at the Triple will be forever known as the “Holy shit, that band was amazing” show that featured Octane Saints and The Sideshow Tragedy from Austin TX, via the Jersey Turnpike, forcing them to sit in traffic for hours and become the headliners of the night.

My friends the Octane Saints traded their headlining spot to let the guys relax and have some dinner before they had to go on stage...

After a small break, The Sideshow Tragedy casually took the stage. I heard they were some kind of country band. They do hail from Austin after all. Much to everyone’s surprise, it seems Austin TX is keeping secrets and really raises some fire breathing kick ass bands. From the first note played, bass player, Justin Thompson was writhing and spinning around and doing things to a bass guitar that surpassed our imagination. He made it almost impossible to take pictures because I couldn’t keep the camera on him. It was an in your face assault that we just couldn’t get enough of, once we accepted that it was really happening.

Personally, I love being surprised by a band and have them sweep me off my feet, just not used to it being with such force and abandon as The Sideshow Tragedy provided.
Shock and surprise were the collective vibe for the rest of the evening. These three men from Texas are talented and wise beyond their years. As Jay said, “they are right where they should be” musically that is. Personally, I wish I could afford to fly to Austin for the show they are playing with Scott H. Biram in May. That would be worth a plane ticket.

Keeping the maniacal Justin in line was the very cool, very in control Nathan Singleton who is the songwriter, and vocalist and the perfect blend of smooth and gritty that you are attracted to instantly.

Keeping everything in place was drummer Jeremy Harrell. He is the driving force behind their music. He is a machine, very strong and powerful. When you have three musicians carrying all that around, you are destined to be in the presence of something very special.

As for the music, Nathan is the songwriter and the playlist was mostly originals with a few covers, but the covers were some of my personal favorites, obscure to a point, not heard lately, but always appreciated. Nathan impressed me with his own version of “Stagger Lee”, a song copied by many musicians, but always a direct version of the original. Nathan’s version, “The Ballad of Stagolee and the Preacher Man” shows his versatility and ability to tell a story. His original material is all about storytelling with songs like “Ain’t No Woman”. It’s mostly about life on the road and the relationships encountered.

I have to say “A Pint of Whiskey and a Pound of Grace” was the highlight for me, which was performed at the end of the show, brought on by something I’ve never witnessed at the Triple before, a standing ovation. We were a small but mighty crowd that night, and we weren’t letting them get away. I have never seen a band local or national win over a new crowd with such power and intensity. I felt really lucky to be a part of that show.

The Sideshow Tragedy is the band to watch and learn from. Although I have to stress that you have to see them live to understand this review. Their CD’s are wonderful and well produced, but much more sedate than the real thing. Don’t be fooled, these guys will make you want to get in their van and join the tour.

Band Members:
Nathan Singleton: Lead vocals, guitar
Justin Thompson: Bass
Jeremy Harrell: Drums

Website: www.sideshowtragedy.com
- Cindy "Elvistra" Johnson


""Itinerant Youth Review""

An inspired set of rugged, country-tinged rockers.
Resophonic guitar colors a band that adds electric guitar, drums, and
an occasional piano or banjo. A sharp sound backing solid songwriting. - www.casuallistening.com


Discography

Borrowed Guitars, Unwound Hearts, and Broken Strings (2006)

Itinerant Youth (2008)

The Sideshow Tragedy (2010)

The Gasoline EP (2011)

Persona (2012)

Photos

Bio

(Their) talent is undeniable, if you have ears, but the style is harsh as well as beautiful, like the Clash and Lead Belly at the same time. Nothing like it on the radio today, when even the rock bands are polished with a computer till all evidence of a human hand is erased. Give me my music with all the scars, sweat and sweet fuckups that mean more than all the perfect ones and zeros ever will.Guy Forsyth

2012 was a big year for The Sideshow Tragedy: in addition to continuing their tireless, never-ending tour of The United States, the band also completed their first European tour and released a new record, Persona. Recorded and produced by Austin TX funk outfit T Bird and the Breaks, the LP is the Austin, TX duos rawest, bluesiest, dirtiest offering to date.

Like last year's vinyl-only quickie EP Gasoline, Persona was recorded at Austin's Big Orange Studio, but this time the band (Nathan Singleton on vocals and guitar, Jeremy Harrell on drums) decided to add a few extra ears. With Tim Crane, Sammy P and C Furr producing, the band fleshed out the songs in some exciting ways, adding unusual percussion and interesting guitar textures, but never sacrificing their trademark rawness and immediacy. Almost all of the songs, including overdubs, are first take, single takes. Much care was taken to avoid recording anything sounding remotely "clean" and you can hear the layers of dirt in the grooves. A collection of raw energy and focused poetry, Persona's songs are hitched together like old rail cars hurtling non-stop from the Deep South to the East Village.

According to Singleton, "This record isn't for everyone. I feel like we have artistic impulses that are, career-wise, a little weird. We arent self-saboteurs and were not scared of success. We would really like to be successful and popular and make cash doing this. However, we get really absorbed in writing songs and making records and when it comes time to market and promote it, sometimes we're like, 'oh God, what have we done?' We try not to worry too much about it because we are in love with rock and roll, and we just try to make music that moves us. It's a dedication to making it sound the way we want it sound, to make records we would want to listen to. We just happen to think early Chess records, Exile On Main Street, and Raw Power are the best records ever. It's hard for us think about it in a pop music sort of way, until it's too late. Getting rich and famous is a long shot anyway, so you might as well make records that sound good to you."

Persona is a dark, murky, glorious slab of garage, blues, and rock and roll--The Sideshow Tragedy's most accomplished record to date. It's the summation of everything they've been working to accomplish since they started the band, and the beginning of everything that's still to come. The band is currently finishing up songs for their 5th LP, which will be recorded later this spring at Old Soul Studios in New York and produced by Kenny Siegal(Chris Whitley,Langhorne Slim, Beirut, Joseph Arthur, New Pornographers). They will be touring the South and Northeast during this time as well, and are gearing up for their second European tour in the Fall.

Band Members