By Jimmy Alford
It was purely by chance that I ran across Old Potion beneath J&J’s. I was early for another show and what I heard streaming from the darkness piqued my interest. So I headed downstairs.
My wife and I came to hear one of her co-workers in the group Big Round Spectacles, but we decided to arrive early and have some fun. We met up with friends, had a slice, I had a beer or two and after an hour or so of conversation, the first twangs of guitars and thumps of drums signaled sound check.
If you have never been at J&J’s for a show, you’ve missed out. The dirty and grungy basement with its bare brick walks, creaking ceiling from patrons and cook staff walking above and little hope of awesome acoustics has to be one of the best places to hear good jams in Denton.
It’s like a scene out of some college-coming-of-age flick, where the protagonist just happens to know about this hole-in-the-wall place.
Ambiance aside, the basement was pretty sparse. I didn’t know what I was expecting really. It was midweek and the show hadn’t been well publicized and the only band I had heard of on the menu was Fishboy, which was really just Eric Michener singing solo.
My wife, our friends and I got comfy ready for whatever was coming, when a seemingly nervous and almost twitchy bearded guy takes a hold of the mic. The uneasy and apologetic way Dylan Kellam spoke to his small audience was quite disarming.
Behind him sat drummer Jesse Gage and on the left was Claire Morales, switching between guitar and harmonica.
Old Potion’s sound is something I don’t get enough of. It feels good to listen to. Imagine meeting an old friend for the first time in years and instantly rekindling that connection. It’s new and exciting but comfortable with old feel.
Dylan, Claire and Jesse are in the midst of recording their first EP called “Magnetism.” Dylan said he was looking forward to getting it completed so they could offer their listeners something tangible to take home.
While it’s the group’s first offering, Old Potion’s playlist promises more than just the typical songs of the lovesick and forlorn.
“I like to write about the people I’ve know and the experiences we’ve had,” Dylan said. “I generally incorporate a sort of theme of rebelling against a predetermined reality. Most of the songs, I wrote to process through things in my life that I didn’t know how to move on from. Song writing provided an outlet that I needed for.”
It’s not all seriousness. Claire and Dylan have melded this haunting muse with styling she has developing through solo performance.
“A Brave new World” writer Aldous Huxley who said “Feasts must be solemn and rare, or else they cease to be feasts” has inspired much of her work, but she isn’t above singing of aliens and old folks in the 1950s.
“Dylan and I are working on this concept album as a sort of middle ground between Old Potion and my solo stuff. The concept is that an alien space ship travels to earth after WWII to take away the atomic bomb and make humans sort of benign and happy so they can’t create such destructive weapons.” Claire said. “This farmer and his wife witness the ship landing and want to save everyone from being bland and content. So they destroy this device and probably kill everyone in the process. It’s kind of become a lot more complicated than it started out being, but it’s very exciting and fun to play with invasion themes.”
Old Potion played several gigs early on in October before taking a small hiatus. They take the stage again Nov. 15 at the Grotto in Fort Worth. Until then, I believe Jesse the drummer described the group’s downtime the best.
“We’ll probably go grab some tacos and horchata, find a woodsy place, and howl at the moon like a bunch of god-forsaken people beasts,” Jesse said.
By Jimmy Alford