Home Live Review Live Review: Scott H. Biram @ Jammin’ Java — 4/24/24

Live Review: Scott H. Biram @ Jammin’ Java — 4/24/24

Live Review: Scott H. Biram @ Jammin’ Java — 4/24/24
Scott H. Biram performs at Jammin' Java on April 24, 2024. (Photo by James Todd Miller)

In the music of Scott H. Biram, who refers to himself as The Dirty Old One Man Band, country, rockabilly, and blues intersect with heavy metal and punk rock.

During his recent set at Jammin’ Java, he played both original and classic songs, all in his own unique inimitable style.

Biram is as Texan as Texan gets. He was born in Lockhart, and grew up in the tiny town of Prairie Lea and, later, the Austin suburb of San Marcos. He started playing with a punk band, the Thangs, in high school. After graduating, he went to art school at nearby Southwest Texas State, where he developed a taste for roots music and joined a couple of bluegrass bands. He shifted to his one-man-band style in the late ’90s and self-released several records, before signing to Bloodshot. His songs have appeared in shows like Son of Anarchy and True Blood (which he referred to as “a vampire porn” — not an inaccurate description), and they’ve been recorded by Hank Williams III and Whitey Morgan.

Texans pride themselves on their toughness, and Scott has that in spades. In 2003, he nearly died when his truck was involved in a head-on collision with a semi on the highway. While confined to his bed, he recorded an EP, Rehabilitation Blues, and, in a wheelchair, he played a show at Austin’s Continental Club while still hooked up to IVs. He’s since established a reputation as a true road dog, working a grueling schedule of road dates that were only interrupted by the pandemic.

Bloodshot Records is known as the home of “insurgent country” (their term for alt-country), and while that description isn’t wrong when it comes to Biram, he embraces a diversity of roots music influences, especially blues, which he expressed his love for.

At Jammin’ Java on April 24, Biram’s set included covers of old-time legend Doc Watson and quintessential American folk troubadour Woody Guthrie (“y’all heard of Woody Guthrie?” he asked). He played songs by bluesmen Robert Johnson (which he learned from the recording by Muddy Waters), Muddy Waters (which he noted was the first song Waters ever recorded), and Mississippi Fred McDowell. There were bluegrass numbers by the Stanley Brothers (“We’re in Virginia, so we have to play the Stanley Brothers,” he said. “We are in Virginia, right?”) and Bill Monroe, and a traditional gospel song, played in a way you’ve never heard gospel.

Last month, Biram released his first album in four years, The One & Only Scott H. Biram. Scott only played a couple of tunes from the album: “No Man’s Land” and “Inside a Bar.”

Watch the official music video for “Inside a Bar” by Scott H. Biram on YouTube:

Scott kicked off the set with “Slow & Easy,” moving on to “Goin’ Home,” then the Doc Watson cover. After the Watson cover, he mentioned he had looked around at the reservation cards on the tables before the show and had seen that one of them read “Beyer,” which is his mother’s maiden name; he mused on whether he might be related to these particular patrons. 

The McDowell and Johnson covers followed, then his original “Still Around,” and the Guthrie tune. After covering Guthrie, he played “Fingernail.” He introduced the next song with a rambling story about how, many years ago, he made the mistake of playing a show on Superbowl Sunday. “Never play a show on Superbowl Sunday,” he advised the audience. (If this was in his native Texas, a state that’s crazy for football, this advice cannot be emphasized enough.) Unsurprisingly, the turnout wasn’t very good, and the show did not go particularly well. I couldn’t fully follow Scott, but this experience somehow gave him “Around The Bend,” a song about a “hillbilly and his son on the porch,” drinking and getting high. (Not infrequent subjects in Biram’s compositions.)

Next up was the gospel song, then “Wildside” and “No Man’s Land.” Scott told the audience he wrote “Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue,” which has been covered by outlaw country artist Whitey Morgan, on Easter morning in 2009. When he finished the song, he called his mother and told her he thought he had a hit. “Sure you do, sweetie,” was her reply.

Watch Scott H. Biram perform “Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue” live in an acoustic session on YouTube:

“I wrote this song 30 years ago, in 1994,” Biram said of “Crazy Like I Do.” The rest of the set consisted of covers, until the audience response convinced him to play “Blood, Sweat, and Murder” for his encore.

A lot of music can sound the same and derivative; even with a lot of stuff I really enjoy, I can hear where the artist picked up their melodies. Scott’s stuff is truly different and original: He doesn’t sound like anyone else, even when he’s playing songs that have been around for a very long time. It may be roots music, but it’s roots music done like nobody else.

Here are some photos of Scott H. Biram performing at Jammin’ Java on April 24, 2024. All pictures copyright and courtesy of James Todd Miller.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here