Fire in the Kitchen's Aaron Blackerby talks Texas cuisine & the band'sseat-of-their-pants style
Nine months ago, San Antonio/Corpus Christi native Aaron Blackerby decided to make some music. His philosophy was simple, “record an album, and then gig to promote it.” The musician assembled Fire in the Kitchen, a group of Austin-based musicians that cook with enough Texas soul to justify the culinary epithet, then quickly found a producer and a secluded one-room studio in Austin so that he could start recording.
Several sessions later, the studio yielded some straightforward and heartfelt southern rock songs such as “Hey, Mr. Preacher Man,” “Weeping Gun,” and “EM&M,” and an album was well on the way.
If you come to a Fire and the Kitchen show expecting to hear music, you’ll stumble away feeling like you just spent a weekend in Luckenbach with Willie, Waylon, and the Boys.
The album is shaping up nicely, but Blackerby prefers the stage. “I finally got so antsy that I wanted to play and start getting the word out about our tunes,” the musician confessed to me, adding that ”[he] just can't stand to feel like [he’s] not being proactive on a daily basis with this band.”
In the studio, Fire in the Kitchen’s music sits comfortably amidst the current wave of Neo-Americana acts such as Drive-By Truckers, Glossary, and the Old 97’s. On the stage, however, the band’s individuality speaks for itself.
For the last five months, Fire in the Kitchen has been showing audiences across Texas a great time. The band’s “Big Little Texas Tour” has primarily focused on playing around Austin, and has also made stops in Bryan, Bee Cave, San Marcos, New Braunfels, Fort Worth, and Dallas.
On stage, Blackerby and Co. have been known to switch instruments mid-set, they would never turn down a drink from the audience, and they always strive to deliver a fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants set every single night. If you come to a Fire and the Kitchen show expecting to hear music, you’ll stumble away feeling like you just spent a weekend in Luckenbach with Willie, Waylon, and the Boys.
Saturday evening’s show at Fitzgerald's is the last stop on the tour, and Blackerby has a few surprises in store for everyone in attendance.
CultureMap: Your shows are full of passion and spontaneous moments, perfect for the crowd at Fitzgerald's. What's the wildest FITK performance that you can recall?
Aaron Blackerby: I think the wildest one in recent memory was our show at the Triple Crown in San Marcos. It's a more intimate venue and we showed up right on time to play after playing another gig elsewhere. As we were putting all of our stuff on stage, my dad, who had driven up to see the show, started feeding me whiskey drinks and I'm so thirsty that I throw a couple down before we started playing. After telling the crowd that my dad was getting me drunk everyone seemed to join in on the party and really dig the music.
CM: Tell me about the Big Little Texas Tour, and why you chose Fitz's to be the last stop. Any big surprises planned?
AB: Well...we're nearing our nation's independence day and if there happened to be fireworks on the way over to Houston we might pick some up.
Really, we just want to put on a kickass show for y'all on Saturday. Everyone in the band is extremely pumped about this show and playing at historical Fitzgerald's. We'll be cranking out some new tunes that our fans in Austin have yet to hear. We've finally put in enough practices to where we feel comfortable debuting them to the public.
On stage, Blackerby and Co. have been known to switch instruments mid-set, they would never turn down a drink from the audience, and they always strive to deliver a fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants set every single night.
CM: Do you play here in Houston often? If so, what have been some of your favorite venues?
AB: This is going to be our second time to play in Houston. The first time we got to play at the Last Concert Cafe' and I think that was one of the most fun shows we've played. Plus the guys that frequent that place are nice and were more than hospitable to us.
That show was fun because we had a long set and people kept buying us beer pitchers all night. By the way thanks again to those guys!
We ended up switching around instruments during that show. Our drummer had to go to the bathroom near the tail end of the set, so the rest of us didn't want to sit there and stare at the crowd. Sam Ogden, our lead guitar player, switched over to drums, and I switched with our bass player. When our drummer came back, he picked up the guitar and we started jamming out to a tune that our bass player wanted to sing.
CM: What else do you plan to do while you're here in Houston?
AB: If I have the time I'd really like to catch up with some of my friends that I don't get to see as often as I'd like. And all of my friends from Houston always rave about the food scene, particularly the fajitas, so I'm hoping that I can get a couple of meals in and really delve into the culinary expertise that is the Houston’s food scene.
CM: I'm really looking forward to hearing your album later this year. Has it been difficult to translate that live spirit to a studio sound?
AB: Yeah, it has. We've been working on this album already for about 9 months and we keep tweaking things so that it emulates what is happening live on stage. It can be hard at times when you're doing a take almost 20 times to capture the same energy in every take so we've been putting things together a little more piecemeal lately. A lot of these songs I draw from personal experience so this can become a bit of a cathartic experience with an album. I've found that I need to pace myself when recording so that we do bring out that live vibe with it all.
"Is Whataburger a type of food? I guess in Texas it is."
CM: In keeping with the culinary concept of your band's name, can you compare each city on the Big Little Texas Tour to a type of food that you enjoy?
AB: Houston — I've eaten in Houston a couple of times and I really dig the fresh gulf seafood here.
Dallas — When I've been in Dallas I'm mainly on a whiskey-cleanse type of diet, but I've always enjoyed the Italian food, especially Terilli's.
Fort Worth — I'll grab some BBQ if I'm in Fort Worth.
Austin — I'm all about the tacos in Austin. There’s always a great variety and seem to fit for any meal.
Bryan — As Bryan/College Station area is more of a college area, I've really enjoyed the pizza there (shout out to the Village Cafe).
San Marcos — Always late snacking when I'm in San Marcos. Is Whataburger a type of food? I guess in Texas it is.
Bee Cave — I used to work out in this area a couple of years ago and I would always stop off at Angel's for their grub. Just down home Texas soul food cooking there.
Fire in the Kitchen performs Saturday at 8 p.m. at Fitzgerald’s. Click here for more details.