The great thing about running around Austin is that even on a Tuesday night, there’s always a great show to see. I walked into The Volstead on East 6th for what seemed like a dark, quiet, and intimate evening. The entire room was just barely brighter than candlelit while Buenos Diaz set up on stage. It was dark enough to where flash photography would blind everyone in the room. Fortunately, Austin is full of really awesome people, and before the show started, everyone, including the band, gave me the thumbs up to blind them momentarily. Just another reason why I love this city.
With a band name like Buenos Diaz, you might expect some latin influences in their sound, but you’d be wrong. Nick Diaz may have grown up around Tejano music, but his heart belongs to the blues. The full outfit consists of Nick Diaz (vocals, guitar), Mark Riddell (bass, vocals), Matt Johnson (drums), Barry Seelen (organ), Mike St. Claire (trumpet), and Smoota (trombone). Only three of the six were out to perform, but it didn’t hinder the impression that this band can leave.
Diaz keeps his blues classic, with traditional riffs that explore the origins fully. And damn, is it refreshing. The band keeps things simple and light, but they definitely keep a groove going. That is, of course, until Diaz runs out of words to sing. Then it’s like as if a gate releases, and his guitar amps up to max power as soul pours out from the fretboard. Right when it happens, the air quietly steals the word “Yes,” from your lips. A blues rock solo is Diaz’s bread and butter. It’s where he lives. And the solos are never too fancy for the music. That being said, Diaz can make that guitar squeal. Everything he plays is very clearly highly skillful, but he stays very tasteful in his musicality. He even busted out the bottleneck slide for that extra touch of blues authenticity.
As dim as it was, the atmosphere allowed the audience to feel closer to the music. While most of the night stayed in the vein of blues, they did mix things up with some softer tones. The band played Diaz’s admitted favorite song, Ritchie Valens’ “We Belong Together” and soon after, brought it back up to a boogie that had a couple fans up and dancing in the back of the bar. It was an easy-going, enjoyable night of great talent and classic sounds. A nice change of pace. And with all the busy music that’s out there, Buenos Diaz is a breath of fresh air.
-Matt Jain, TipCow