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Antone's celebrates 34 years with Austin sons Soulhat, Topaz & Mudphonic

Mudphonic drummer Alex Marrero              Photo by Charlotte Shafer

Antone's wrapped up the month-long celebration of its 34th Anniversary with native Austin groups Soulhat and Topaz & Mudphonic on Saturday, July 25.

Soulhat placed in several categories of the 1994-1995 Austin Music Awards after 4 years of rocking local clubs like the Black Cat Lounge with their signature style of funky southern-style rock, a self-produced album "Outdebox," and tours with Blues Traveler and Dave Matthews Band.  In 1994 they signed with Epic/Sony Records and produced their second full-length album "Good to be Gone."  Unfortunately failed record promotions and touring pressures led to disbandment the following year.  Several variations of regrouping followed, with their last full-length album "Experiment on a Flat Plane" released in 2000, soon after which the group again disbanded.  Although Soulhat has occasionally played "reunion" shows, nothing has stuck.  After witnessing their funked-up performance at Antone's Saturday night, and the crowd's enthusiastic response, one can only hope there is a chance for the future.

Austin native Topaz McGarrigle is a classically trained jazz musician who enjoyed tremendous success as a saxophonist in New York City for 10 years, before returning to Austin with a mission of turning his music back inward to his roots. He added vocals, guitar, and harmonica to his skill set, then acquired the group of musicians to become known as Mudphonic; collectively he and the group are known as Topaz & Mudphonic.  Topaz donned a top hat and led the group to a truly unique down-and-dirty sound that blends swamp-boogie, jazz, and funk.  Their debut album, which was recorded in a barn on the banks of the Colorado River (Texas) and released in 2008, is titled "Music for Dorothy" in honor of guitarist John Branch's mother, who passed away shortly before the album was recorded.

The show on Saturday night was free-flowing, with Topaz joining Soulhat on the saxophone and Soulhat's frontman Kevin McKinney joining Mudphonic on guitar. Austin guitarist Paul Mercurio also sat in with Mudphonic for a short while.  All in all, this was not a show that one could possibly stand still for.

Sample music from these bands.

All photos by Charlotte Shafer.