Eastwood Smokes liven up the Boot

Ben Shooter, Associate Arcade Editor

New Orleans has a multitude of bars that double as venues for live music, but usually the Boot isnt one of them. Last Thursday the Boot made an exception to its standard dance pop sounds, hosting a performance by The Eastwood Smokes, a band made up of Tulane students, as part of its Boot Out Breast Cancer fundraiser.

The five-piece band squeezed onto the Boots stage, looking dapper in button-down shirts and vests.  The band had gathered a crowd, made up of friends, Halloween-ready revelers and at least a few people who were just curious about seeing an actual band play at the Boot.  

The band proved a tight live unit, relying more on the members musicianship than on effects or onstage antics. Guitarists Mitch Therieau and Sam Fishman stood out as they traded jangling leads and clean, anchoring riffs. Bassist Justin Plummer provided a strong foundation on bass, balancing flash with functionality, while Bear Hutchinsons piano added interest to the bands musical textures. Especially impressive was drummer Dan Lawrence, who simultaneously sang lead on most of the songs. While this was certainly a difficult feat to pull off, Lawrence made it seem effortless.    

Strong original songs like Carolina,” “Whisky Breath and Tuscon incorporated the bands folk and blues-rock influences into a package of bright, upbeat rock ‘n roll that seemed to feed into the audiences good spirits.  

The Eastwood Smokes also picked an ambitious selection of songs to cover, bypassing modern pop hits in favor of more timeless classics, and making these tunes their own. The band’s rendition of Bruce Springsteens Born to Run was unexpected, a good rock song that hasnt been covered to death, at least not in Louisiana. As a result it was both familiar and refreshing to hear. Also in the set was You Cant Always Get What You Want, a song from one of the Rolling Stones biggest albums. The crowd singing along well represented the London Bach Choir.  

At first You Cant Always Get What You Want, seemed like that would be the biggest moment of the bands set, and that wouldve made for a great concert on its own. The band, however, closed with Lynyrd Skynyrds epic Free Bird, complete with gentle piano intro and soaring guitar solo. With this show, the Eastwood Smokes surpassed expectations, provided a thoroughly entertaining performance, and established themselves as perhaps the only band other than Lynyrd Skynrd fans can yell, play Free Bird at without seeming too obnoxious.