Chubby Knuckles Choir serving up mix of music styles at Dahlia Cafe
By Kate Ludlow
Ask Liberty Hill resident Dave Gould what type of music his band plays and you’re guaranteed to stump him.
“That’s the $64,000 question. We have yet to come up with an answer to that,” he says.
A mix of styles, The Chubby Knuckle Choir may be indefinable, but they sure are a treat to hear.
Based “sort of” in Bastrop, Trace Womack, Slim Bawb (“Just Slim Bawb”), Rory Smith, Perry Lowe, and Dave Gould make up The Chubby Knuckle Choir, a band defined as “swamp, funk, gospel, and bluegrass with Americana roots.”
They play mostly benefits and private parties in the New Braunsfels area, and next week is the first of two shows in Liberty Hill.
“This is really just a fun thing. It’s an amazing outlet,” said Gould.
Gould is the Executive Director of Hope House, a group home to 30 children and adults with severe to profound mental retardation.
“Slim Bawb is a professional musician, playing in The Chubby Knuckle Choir, as well as 5-6 other bands, Trace is a Marketing Co-Ordinator and CASA Volunteer, and Rory is a chef out at the Hyatt Lost Pines. Perry? I don’t know what Perry does. He works for city government (in Austin), we don’t ask him too much,” says Gould, smiling. “It’s nice when it pays for gas.”
The band was formed in Bastrop at the Twisted Twig Studio, owned by former Chubby Knuckle Choir member Curtis Farley. Gould met the band through a party, and from there, an invitation to sit in with them was extended.
“I play upright bass. I started playing rhythm guitar in college and soon realized I was going to be a mediocre guitar player, at best. I started playing upright bass. It was just an instrument that called to me,” he said.
He was invited to practice with them on a Wednesday, played a private party with the band on Thursday and two shows that weekend. Gould says there hasn’t been a practice held since that first one.
Their live shows are more than just music. Rory Smith, vocals and conga drums, is “our natural-born storyteller,” says Gould. “He’s a big part of what we do, bringing them onto the dance floor and into our living room.”
Trace Womack is “the heart of our whole project.” Womack plays the guitar, mandolin and vocals.
“Slim Bawb, he’s from Boudin, Louisiana. He’s our multi-instrumentalist. He does vocals, resonator guitar, the banjo, mandolin, Mojo stomp box. He really provides the swamp sound. Perry Lowe, he provides our soulful sounds. He’s the voice of our sweet R&B, and djembe drums. He also does a lot of our production work.”
On stage, they weave stories with songs, and work together to generate their sets.
“There really is no telling what is going to come out of Rory’s mouth. He tells stories about high school, stories about hauling goats. Hauling goats is a big theme for us, but I don’t know why. I always tell people, go on Facebook, and listen to us for an hour. Then come out and see us. I can’t play you three songs that will explain it. You gotta come out, you gotta commit,” Gould said. “And bring the kids. We love having kids out.”
At their upcoming show at Dahlia Café, they’ll be debuting a new song, “A cover of a cover.”
Gould happened upon the bluegrass band, The Cleverlys, who are known for taking pop songs and redoing them bluegrass style.
“So, at that show, we’ll be debuting “All the Single Ladies.” For those that might not know, that’s a dance-pop and R&B hit from singer Beyonce Knowles.
Says Gould, “We don’t really like to do a lot of covers, but this was really fun.”
As for how the band got its unique name, that of course has a story.
“We’re all middle-aged guys, maybe a little thicker than we used to be. Curtis walked in and said, ‘You guys look like a chubby knuckle choir.’ There it was,” Gould said.
A band that doesn’t take themselves seriously is always a good bet for entertainment.
“We’re going to get Slim Bawb a little monkey with a cymbal, so he can be a true one-man band,” says Gould.
The Choir plays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 27 at Dahlia Café, and at the Liberty Hill Christmas Festival on Dec. 4.