Cincinnati’s 500 Miles to Memphis made a one-off stop in Milwaukee at the Miramar Friday to very little fan support. Coming off an extensive fall 2011 Midwest tour, the band has paid considerable dues in harnessing an area fan base, but this night proved otherwise, which may have been due to the venue along with some lackluster promotion. In this writer’s eyes, lap steel player David Rhodes Brown salvaged the show. His playing somehow bridged the gap between cowpunk and power chord alternative rock, and added needed musicality to the overall sound. Without David, this band simply loses any hint at a country sub genre. Milwaukee native and 500 Miles’ bassist Noah Sugarman kicked off their set on acoustic guitar with some originals of his own to the delight of small audience. Check out their website at www.500mtm.com.
Milwaukee openers the Cactus Brothers made a stronger run at alt country than the headliners. Even without a soloist, brothers Brian & Mike Kasprzak cruised through their Hank Williams 3 influenced originals, all while looking the part, and then payed homage to Hank himself with a great version of “Straight to Hell.” Seems 500 Miles’ David Rhodes would fit in well with these guys. Check them out on Facebook or see them Thursdays @ Tonic Tavern in BayView.