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Left Lane Cruiser: Fat Possum or Bust

By Sean Smith

Fort Wayne Reader


What do R.L. Burnside, The Black Keys and Left Lane Cruiser all have in common? They all play North Mississippi Hill Country Blues and if Left Lane Cruiser has their way they will sign with Fat Possum Records, home to Burnside, the Keys and many other masters of the genre.

Joe Evans and Brenn Beck are the two musicians that comprise Left Lane Cruiser, and their sound is so full you’d think they were being backed by a few other folks. But everything you hear is a result of Joe and Brenn. Evans plays slide guitar and handles the vast amount of lead vocals. Beck plays (take a deep breath) drums, harmonica, mouth harp, and many other odd percussive instruments. He also backs up Joe with samples and a mix of backup and lead vocals. Both have equal say in the composition of their tunes and at this point it sounds like they communicate through telepathy.

The two of them were introduced to each other by Joe’s fiancée, Nicole, who Brenn has known since high school. “When she insisted that we get together and jam sometime, we did,” says Brenn. “The first time we met, was our first practice really. We just clicked instantly. Hell, the first song we jammed on was ‘Cheyenne,’ a song Joe wrote a long time ago, but we still play that song.”

Joe had never been in a band up until that point. Having only played some solo gigs in Indianapolis when he lived there, this was his first band. Brenn on the other hand had been in a handful of bands in the past, like Black Cat Bone, Copius Stimuli and Ain’t Nobodies Business.

Both agree that this project is the most fun they have ever had playing music. “With Joe we know where the other is going and we’ve played together enough it’s like we share the same brain,” admits Beck, “When we are sitting down writing a song, it’s like we both already know where it’s gonna end up.”

“I haven’t really played out a whole lot before LLC,” confesses Evans, “So it took me awhile to get over some stage fright, but playing with Brenn is just easy, we just lock in.”

As for the style of music they play, they say it’s in their blood. “When you break it down, it’s all about being blues lovers from the start. It was only inevitable that we would find Fat Possum and find our sound,” confides Evans.

“Exactly!” echoes Beck, “I grew up with the blues and I love it all, but Fat Possum has that raw, almost punk blues sound. I was hooked the first time I heard it. After feeling like I was growing tired of playing twelve-bar stuff, Fat Possum made me feel like I finally found the sound I was looking for.”
This is where the label they hope to sign with someday comes into play. When asked what their future plans for the band are, they both respond: “Get signed to Fat Possum.”

“We have talked to them several times and they definitely know who we are. We have made our interest perfectly clear, so now we’re just trying to get our name out as much as possible and hope they like what they hear,” says Brenn.

Part of getting their name out there included signing up for the Whatzup Battle of the Bands last year and coming in second. “It was a trip,” Brenn says. “We signed up for fun to meet some new bands and get some exposure. We never expected to go that far. We owe a lot of it to Jenn Nickell and others like her who have supported us so much.”

Of course the best way to get their sound out and into the ears of listeners is by releasing albums and they have done just that. Twice. Their first release, Slingshot, came out in 2005. In May of 2006 they released their sophomore album, Getting Down On It. They did so with a pair of very unique shows. One was held at the Cinema Center at IIT and following their performance there was a screening of the Fat Possum documentary, You See Me Laughing. The other show took place at Wooden Nickel on Anthony Boulevard and after the guys played inside they invited everyone outdoors for a barbeque.

Their unique sound and deep appreciation for their fans has won many people over, including many other local musicians and artists. “I always appreciate how thick a band’s sound is. You know, how they fill the space they are given for each tune,” says Zach Smith of Definitely Gary. “This is quite a feat to accomplish for any band, let alone a two man band. Left Lane Cruiser thickens it up. That, and they are really loud. I like that.”

“I love the Left Lane Cruisers. They make a particular kind of swampy racket that you don’t hear much in these parts. Their music sounds like it washed up on the shore of the southern side of the Mississippi River,” suggests Matt Kelley, of design company One Lucky Guitar, “Plus, their album release shows have been unique and inspired and it seems like they’ve had about nine of them. I was getting my oil changed at Jiffy Lube last Tuesday afternoon and LLC was playing a CD release show in the waiting room.”

How do they feel about the support and newly formed friendships with other bands?
“I think it’s great. Joe and I are huge fans of a lot of bands in town right now,” says Beck, “Fort Wayne has a plethora of incredibly talented bands.”

“I’m just surprised by the support we have gotten so far from the music community. Everybody has been so friendly and supportive of each other,” continues Evans, “Fortwaynemusic.com has been great to us. Anderson and the folks down there have done a lot for us. Tim Hogan at the North Anthony Wooden Nickel has also hooked us up. As far as bands go, we are friends with anybody that wants to be.”

Good music from good people who are good natured. They’ll be on Fat Possum before you know it.

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