Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
There can be no excess in the mind of T-Bird. The charismatic front man of the bigger than a baseball team, Austin, Texas, soul band does not accept that there's any good that can come out of abiding by the laws of moderation. The midnight oils are burned, refilled and burned again, allowing he and whomever else he's chosen to consort with that evening/morning to drink two or three times as much cheap ass alcohol, or more if they can stomach it and it forces the good times to continue rolling the way that they're meant to roll. He lives for those good times that will put you under the table, but never before they've been all that was advertised and more, so much more. T-Bird walks around with a four in the morning, hoarse and hearty voice, the kind that's been out and roaming through the deepest, darkest hours, flirting and writing phone numbers down on tattered scraps of napkin and pieces of paper torn from the corners of menus, newspapers and matchbooks. He walks around as a man possessed by the idea of never, ever missing out on a party, even if he has to start it himself. And the best part about a T-Bird and the Breaks party is that there's already a built-in crowd, no matter when or where it breaks out. There's never a concern that one won't break out as the band knows 200 different ways to get to the chocolate-y center of the lollipop and 300 different ways to get to that optimum level of inebriation, where there doesn't seem to be any reason to worry about what's happening tomorrow or what just happened during the day. None of it matters for a second any longer. It's quickly become forgettable and unfathomable, warped into a sense of unabridged elation and possibility - a sweaty dance session that the floor of the Apollo must have recognized as the standard order of the night, every night that James Brown, Sam Cooke or Aretha Franklin was in town and working up their storms. T-Bird and the Breaks are genuine lust and motion, purebred not giving a damn in the way that slackers sluff off - but this is doing it in dress shoes, slacks, skirts, heels, lipstick, cologne, sunglasses when they aren't needed, buttoned down collared shirts and derby hats. This is the essence of not living to work, but in working to live. Or just not working at all and getting by any way possible, just scratching enough money out to pay for the ghetto wine and the hobo booze that will transform the night. T-Bird and the Breaks' debut album was recorded in the same room that this session was taped and the familiarity and love for the old girl is apparent. Though the band has a way of making an out-of-control night full of characters and mistakes, blame and shame, tremendous amounts of fun that wouldn't be traded for the world feel as glamorous as it gets, they are the workaholics who could set up anywhere and freeze a room and stop time. It's music that makes everyone feel attractive and willing to cut loose. It's everything that soul music - made now or anytime in the past - is supposed to be: that escape that may not come in any other fashion.