Home' Rhythms Magazine : July August 2018 Contents 10 Rhythms
That singer was Tomar Williams, of whom I had never heard before, and his
band was the FCs. They were locals in a scene that is not renowned for soul and
R&B but which has it lurking healthily in the background. I thought that I must
not have been paying enough attention on my previous visits to Austin but it
turned out that it is a relatively new combination, though it also turns out that
the 49-year old Tomar has been in Austin since he moved from Las Vegas with
his family in 1986.
While Tomar was well-versed in soul he got sidetracked in a successful
production company with his brother until he decided to return to his roots
just three years ago and teamed up with the FCs, a new instrumental band on
the Austin scene. Their debut album, Heart Attack, was released in November
2016 and they have been featured at SXSW, ACL Fest and other high profile
events. Now we got to see them at the Old Settler’s Festival, an event that is
commendably expanding its musical scope.
It wasn’t hard to work out that Tomar had been immersed in gospel and R&B
from a young age, you don’t get that voice and those moves out of nowhere. His
mother sang in a family gospel group and like many of the acts you see in the
gospel tent at Jazz Fest they remained, frustratingly for fans, unrecorded. His
father played saxophone in the military and other bands. In his teens, Tomar
performed with his brothers at Antone’s when the Fabulous Thunderbirds,
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Lou Ann Barton were playing there. But undertaking
some successful production ventures meant that the performing career was put
Luckily, Tomar came back to performance and to soul and R&B. He had already
been writing songs and stashing them away for a couple of years in preparation.
“I'd actually been on the road, seeing people actually gravitating to this music,”
he told me. “These young kids, man. They're not just older folks but young kids
are gravitating towards this style of music. I thought, like, ‘Wow. This is crazy’.”
Eventually, Tomar’s wife convinced him that he should be a lead vocalist and he
teamed up with local outfit the FCs. The result is one of the most energetic soul
records of the past couple of years. Think Black Joe Lewis meets The Daptones.
Tomar and the FCs are currently working on a new album that I am looking
forward to hearing later this year. In the meantime, one of the questions that
remains unanswered and that you may have well been asking is, what exactly is
the meaning of the band title, the FCs?
“It's sort of a secret actually and they don't want to tell the secret,” he explains.
“They may reveal it when we release this next album, then people would be like,
‘Oh, okay.’ They might be excited about or it may not even mean anything. I
don't know.” I look forward to finding out.
One of the great joys of attending
a music festival is not just the
opportunity to reacquaint with
familiar favourites but also the
chance to discover new acts or new
combinations. That is what keeps
me going back to so many events
year after year. The recent New
Orleans Jazz Fest provided plenty
of highlights: the spectacular David
Byrne show, jazz legends Ron Carter,
Archie Shepp, singers Dianne Reeves
and Irma Thomas – and the inspired
combination of Charles Lloyd and
Lucinda Williams (which I have
written about in the feature CD
Sometimes, however, you come upon
acts completely by chance and these
discoveries can be just as rewarding.
On my recent trip I made at least two
exciting discoveries that live in the
memory and make the journey even
more worthwhile. At the Old Settler’s
Festival in Austin I had been looking
forward to seeing a fantastic duo
known as The War & Treaty, but rain
intervened, and we had to wait until
Jazz Fest to see them. (I will tell you
about them next month).
On the first night of the event we
made a very late retreat towards
the car park and had to walk past
the Bluebonnet Stage, the minor
stage, that we might not have even
visited had we not had enough of the
psychedelic bluegrass on the main
stage. As we strolled past we noticed a
dynamic singer throwing himself into
a show backed by a hugely energetic
soul band that reminded me of the
Dap Kings. I was transfixed and
determined to follow it up.
Links Archive 2018 May-June September October 2018 Navigation Previous Page Next Page