T-Bird and the Breaks
Tim Crane landed here only after doing a bit of research. The frontman of Austin’s newest and baddest R&B outfit, T-Bird and the Breaks, was living and gigging in Massachusetts, longing for a fresh scene. In 2006, Crane bought an Amtrack ticket for a trip around the U.S. (as Crane puts it, “a Eurorail pass, but in the States”), and found a home in Central Texas. Austin may seem an unlikely fit for a throwback rhythm and blues band – the city is more widely known for its country music roots (Willie Nelson, et. al) and more recently for its indie rock (Spoon, Okkervil River, Shearwater) – but in less than two years, T-Bird and the Breaks have become arguably the finest example of Austin’s burgeoning soul and funk scene.
This was T-Bird and the Breaks’ first trip to KUT’s studios. The four song set starts with the sizzlin’ grooves of “Take Time” – an ideal initiation. Each instrument introduces itself to the listener one at a time – drums, organ, horns, bass – culminating in a high octane call-and-response vocal exchange between Crane and two female backup singers. The band transitions seamlessly into the second song, another uptempo composition called “Esmerelda”, which highlights Crane’s playful lyrics (“gonna spread the news like stink from a skunk”).
Crane is a student of 1950s and ‘60s old school blues and soul: Booker T and the MGs, Otis Redding, James Brown. His father used to put him to bed singing Mississippi John Hurt and Howlin’ Wolf. The title of T-Bird and the Breaks debut album is telling. It’s called Learn About It. This is the approach Crane took in putting together his band’s sound: learn about it from the masters and give it a personal touch. Crane’s done the research, now we get to enjoy the results.