Contemporary music with roots in 60s soul and rock.
The NewMatics (Ernie Gammage, Patterson Barrett, Ben Cocke and Tommy Taylor) formed in the summer of 1994 to take advantage of Texas’ lucrative private party market: “We wanna make $10,000 each in December!” And they did! Digging deep into classic R&B and rock, the band quickly developed a razor-sharp repertoire and following, opening for and backing up a legion of acts including Sam (and Dave) Moore, The Shirelles, The Drifters, The Coasters, The Classics IV, and many more.
Longtime veterans of the Austin music scene, the four NewMatics first played together in the Austin All-Stars in the mid-1970s. Ernie “Sky” Gammage, who has been part of more than a few groups that helped to create the Austin music scene, plays bass and sings in addition to penning songs. His vocal style draws from many sources, but perhaps none so much as the old-school soul belting of Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett.
Patterson Barrett has been playing in bands in Austin since his arrival here soon after recording with Jerry Jeff Walker on Walker’s self-titled MCA release (playing pedal steel guitar on the single, "LA Freeway"). Patterson has been involved in many musical projects, among them the band Partners In Crime with Buddy and Julie Miller. He plays keyboards, guitar and various other instruments with the NewMatics, in addition to writing many of the group’s songs, and produced Up Popped Poncho!.
The other main songwriter, guitarist Ben Cocke, has played with Marcia Ball and Rusty Weir, as well as in numerous bands with Patterson for over 20 years. His explosive playing style is well-known among Austin guitar aficionados. That same emotional depth is evident in his songwriting.
Certainly the member most recognized by the music industry (can you say gold and platinum?) is drummer Tommy Taylor. A charter member of the group Christopher Cross, Tommy can be found drumming on an untold number of recordings, including several with Eric Johnson. What many people don’t know, however, is that Tommy is also an accomplished singer. His vocals recall the great British rock singers, as well as rock and soul pioneers like Marvin Gaye and Little Richard.
It’s a little misleading to call Up Popped Pancho! a debut recording considering the number of records the members of The NewMatics have appeared on. Despite this the record explodes with youthful enthusiasm. The music harkens back to the soul and rock of the 60s but the themes here are all grown up from the guarded skepticism of “Call It Love” to the sunny optimism of “Have A Little Faith.” “I Don’t Want To Go” tackles issues of mortality while sounding like it will be right at home in a variety of current radio formats. Although the vocal duties are spread throughout the band the group seems to sing with a single consciousness giving voice to the legions of the loved and lost and the still-believers. Gammage’s "Blackeyed Susan" rocks with all the verve of a teenager and his surprising version of “If I Were A Carpenter” has to be heard to be appreciated. Included in this collection is an interesting cover: “It’s Not The Spotlight” a Gerry Goffin/Barry Goldberg-penned ballad delivered with a hint of Brit-rock styling by drummer Tommy Taylor.