Brian Olive & Dooley Wilson @ Mickey Finn's Nov. 13

Listen Up Toledo  |  11/12/2009 7:00 am

There aren't many bands in America, much less solo artists, making music as good as Brian Olive, and that's not to mention those dabbling in the art of aural psychedelia. Yet, Cincinnati's prodigal son is no stranger to success or favorable criticism. As a member of two of the Midwest's biggest bands of the last ten years - he played guitar for the Greenhornes (with Blanche and Raconteurs bassist "Little" Jack Lawrence), and, as Oliver Henry, was multi-instrumentalist for Toledo natives, later Detroit superstars, the Soledad Brothers - Olive cut some serious musical chops, and earned arguably more serious musical street cred. 

The past though is always behind us, and in Olive's case, that seems a blessing. His new collection of songs recently released on Alive Records is a dreamy, soothing album simply titled "Brian Olive." I'm pleased to say, it's better than most of the allegedly "new" music you've heard this year.

Olive's debut solo album oozes all the best and catchiest elements of classic '60s psychedelic rock, a la "Odyssey & Oracle"-era Zombie's, West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, and The Pink Floyd before they dropped the 'The,' but it is not obnoxiously single-genre derivative, nor is it mired in the past. Layered among these gorgeous melodies - which, by the way, are every bit as good as neo-psych bands like Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips, and Portugal. The Man - you'll find heartbreakingly sincere songwriting, catchy indie choruses, touches of 'after-hours,' free-form lounge-y jazz, soul-driven horns, rollicking '70s glam, and even slight hints of classic Nashville-style country and Americana.

In the wake of the White Stripes' rocket launch out of the Rust Belt and into international superstardom, it seemed for a moment that the whole world was watching the Midwest, and locally, every band willing to work up a sweat on stage was 'the next big thing.' And, let's be honest, it became a bit much. Perhaps thankfully, as fickle as the media's Sauron-like eye is, it didn't take long before we were left back in the jobless, soot-covered cold. But this album, and this visit from Brian Olive is loaded with optimism, and the timing seems just right. There is a cultural shift happening here, an awakening of sorts, and if we're lucky, the future for the Industrial Midwest will sound a lot like the inside of Olive's head.

Joining/hosting this show is the incomparable Dooley Wilson. Known and respected regionally, Wilson is regarded as one of the best blues slide guitar players north of the Mason-Dixon. A Toledo native, and Toledo musical hero for that matter, Wilson has been an icon in the local scene since the early '90s, playing in bands such as Henry & June (essentially later to become the Soledad Brothers), The Young Lords, Boogaloosa Prayer (with ex-Necros and former Laughing Hyenas drummer Todd Swalla) and, of course, embarking on quite and impressive solo career, which has literally taken him down Highway 61 into the heart of the Mississippi Delta, and eventually to New Orleans' infamous French Quarter, where he fast earned a reputation as the real deal. Of late, Wilson has been joined by East Toledo blues harp player John Roundcity, a.k.a. "the Johnny Woods to Dooley's Fred McDowell," for heart-wrenching sets of '30s and '40s country blues songs, both classic and obscure, and Wilson's acclaimed originals.

This is about as good and genuine as live music in Toledo gets. I suggest you show up.

Brian Olive and Dooley Wilson with John Roundcity play Mickey Finn's Pub, 602 Lagrange St., on Friday, November 13, 2009 at 10 p.m. Cover is just $5.