By Jonny Whiteside
2:45 PM PDT, May 30, 2014
Recently formed rock quartet Texas Space Monster Jalopy has a pedigree as wild and unexpected as the band's unconventional moniker. Fronted by veteran guitar virtuoso Gary Myrick (best known for his moody, pulsating 1980 New Wave rocker "She Talks in Stereo") and the powerful singer-guitarist Carla Olson (of the influential late '70s pop-punk janglers the Textones and notable collaboration with the Byrds Gene Clark and former Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor), TSMJ is one of the most intriguing new forces currently jolting local bandstands.
The band, which performs Tuesday at Cody's Viva Cantina in Burbank, delivers a relaxed yet authoritative brand of easy rolling, impeccably realized blues and rock. Anchored by drummer Mitch Marine (another well-traveled, veteran player from the Lone Star state) and acclaimed bassist Tony Sales (a Burbank resident whose solid musicianship played a significant part in the late-'70s output of legendary rock titans Iggy Pop and David Bowie), the group's fast evolving repertoire ranges from offbeat covers to brand-new compositions, which, as Sales describes them, "are somewhere between Wilson Pickett meets the Band."
The band is essentially a product of spontaneous rock 'n' roll combustion. A month of two ago, Myrick ran into Marine, who was looking to make good on an offer for a residency from now defunct local club Lucy's 51, and from that point TSMJ's genesis essentially ordered itself.
Shortly after that initial chance meeting, Myrick saw Sales at Toluca Lake diner Paty's. As Sales said, "Gary and I first met 30 years ago and we've always wanted to play together. So, one day I went out to lunch, there he is and this just came together."
Finally, Myrick turned to Olson. "I've known Carla since I was 17, and she was 18, back in Austin. She is one of my oldest and closets friends, so I called her," he said. Naturally, she responded positively and showed up at one of their first gigs. "I was supposed to sit in on one song," Olson said. "But I stayed onstage for the next two and a half hours!"
Together, the estimable foursome excels at a singular brand of wide-open, sunbaked Southwestern jams. At once tender and brawny, they unfailingly exhibit a passionate involvement and an organic, natural sound that lends the music a great appeal.
"We're not competing with Bruno Mars here," Sales said. "We let it take its own form. It's one of these bands where it works, if you let it work. I want to have a good time, I love working with these people and it's a lot of fun."
But just what exactly does that oddball band name mean?
"Well, the band and the name is all my doing — or all my fault, depending on how you look at it," Myrick said. "There are three Texans in the band. Tony's from Cleveland, but we made him an honorary Texan, and I drive an old 1930s hot rod every day. It's kind of a jalopy and so is this band — it's like a monster goin' down the road, out of control!"
JONNY WHITESIDE is a veteran music journalist based in Burbank and author of "Ramblin' Rose: the Life & Career of Rose Maddox" and "Cry: the Johnnie Ray Story."
Editor's Note: This article originally published with an incorrect spelling of Olson. Also, Saul Davis is the photographer.