[Low Man’s Joe’s] entire set was simply amazing, from beginning to end. They opened with one of the new songs, “Crazy Carnival.” This song has me instantly wanting to buy the album it’s on, the same way I bought the first album (titled “Where I Stand”) for “I’m Alive” back in 2009. If there was any doubt in my mind that the LMJ crew still had their mojo, that doubt was long gone after this set (actually, by the end of “Crazy Carnival”).
Low Man's Joe: REVIEWS
Low Man's Joe has a sturdy rock sound that's a throwback to the days before adjectives like "alt" and "indie."
Top Houston Discs of 2009
No other Houston record this year sparkled with as much commercial potential as LMJ's debut effort, which managed to both echo (when they were still decent) and outdo (anything within the last several years) Bon Jovi and a slew of other arena-rock bands. LMJ's songs - No Heroes, Evening Rise, the truly searing Temptation - are also bracing and modern without giving in to the indie-hipster posturing that stifles so many Houston bands. Bret Gyrich is one of the city's best male vocalists - no question.
A Band From All Corners of the Globe, Including Kansas
By Joe Guerra
The Houston Chronicle
Feb. 18, 2009
The road to Low Man’s Joe begins on a farm in Kansas. At Berklee College of Music in Boston. In war-torn Iraq. In the mountains of Olongapo City in the Philippines.
“The first vehicle I learned to drive was a tractor,” says guitarist Kevin Moeder, who owns an architecture business in Houston. “My career pretty much got me out of Kansas.”
All points eventually led to Houston, where the rock quartet formed just a year ago.
Singer Bret Gyrich honed his talent via Filipino cover bands and solo acoustic shows. He moved to Houston almost two decades ago and says music was a family staple. The bug bit at 8 years old in an unlikely setting.
“One of our neighbors was doing her laundry with this waterpump, listening to Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen,” Gyrich remembers. “I’m hearing this lady, who has never been in America, singing like she’s born in the USA. That was her song.
“I’m thinking, ‘That’s what I want to do. I want to create that kind of magic.’ ”
It’s that same sense of fascination — and ambition — that drives each band member. The collective effort is pushing LMJ quickly through the local ranks.
“A lot of bands look at shows as, let’s face it, a chance to just get out and party,” says drummer and Berklee al um John Feldmann. He earned a master of jazz performance at Manhattan School of Music and was with Houston band Stalking Chloe from 2004 to 2008. “We like to have fun, too. But first and foremost, it’s a business.”
The band rocked four sets at last summer’s Rock the Bayou festival and — most impressively — cranked out a full-length disc. “Everybody’s had a stroke of genius. We’re all in it together,” says bassist and former Marine Arron Barringer. He moved to Houston in May 2007 after facing the possibility of an unrealized dream.
“I was in Iraq as a security contractor, and we got ambushed pretty good,” Barringer says. “I was pretty sure that we were all done. I remember thinking, ‘I really wish I would have given music a shot.’
“When I got with these guys, it just worked. I could feel it.”
Where I Stand is a 10-track collection of fist-pumping, sing-along rockers. Gyrich and Barringer are natural songwriters, and it’s an astonishing accomplishment for a first CD. The bulk was assembled over two days at Red Tree Recording Studio with owner/producer Jeffery Armstreet (also a bassist for Houston band Evangeline).
Gyrich possesses a big, booming voice, full of power and emotion. He’s immensely charismatic and works small stages as if he’s playing for 10,000 people. Feldman’s precise drumming gives the title track a simmering, tribalesque groove and turns Temptation into a seductive call to arms. Barringer’s bass provides a sturdy backbone that’s showy when it needs to be, and Moeder, put simply, is a fantastic guitarist. The band’s sturdy sound echoes Bon Jovi, and LMJ plays up the comparisons with a spirited cover of Radio Saved My Life Tonight.
“I’ve never experienced a band as prepared for a recording session. They had their parts worked out and even pulled off several songs with one take,” Armstreet says. “It’s refreshing to see a group that handles itself with their level of professionalism.”
As for the band’s blue-collar moniker, Gyrich says it came to him in high school, a play on Low Man’s Lyric, a 1997 Metallica tune. But it’s Moeder who crystallizes the collective significance.
“Metallica wrote (that song) when I felt that a lot of their members had basically hit rock bottom. It was their turning point,” he says. That’s kind of where I was at. It was something I felt that I wanted to do and I needed to do for me. “The whole ‘Joe’ thing, I think, is we’re all just average guys who are united in doing something that we feel collectively is better for all of us. We’re all trying to go to the same place.”
Low Man’s Joe CD-release party
When: 10 p.m. Feb. 28.
With: Dog Men Poets (San Antonio) and Blunt Force (Denton).
Where: Gary’s Spot, 14083 FM 2920.
Some of Houston's brightest stars bring the shine to Pride Festival
By Joe Guerra
The Houston Chronicle
June 24, 2009
LOW MAN’S JOE
• Why you need to see them: In just more than a year, LMJ has established itself as one of the city’s hardest-working bands. The group’s debut disc, Where I Stand, is a searing collection of arena rockers, fueled by the powerhouse vocals of Bret Gyrich. The Pride Fest slot caps an impressive run that includes a recent win at the House of Blues battle of the bands. LMJ also plays the Freedom Over Texas July 4 extravaganza.
• Sneak peek: The boys will be playing their disc’s title track. It’s “a crowd favorite,” Gyrich says, “written lyrically from the point of view of the victim and the defeated.” Let’s hope they also include that rock-tastic cover of Bon Jovi’s Radio Saved My Life Tonight.
• Why Pride: Gyrich is pumped “to be involved in one of the biggest events in our hometown and to reach an entirely new audience.” Drummer John Feldmann says “music transcends all boundaries, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. Pride is a chance for people to come together and celebrate.”
• Hear more: lowmansjoe.com
• Set time: 6-7 p.m. on the main stage
Local Album of the Week: Low Man's Joe's Where I Stand
By Chris Gray
The Houston Press
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Before "Wanted Dead or Alive," before "It's My Life," before Jon Bon Jovi went off to Hollywood and took the Lost Highway through Nashville in 2007, Bon Jovi was a pretty decent hard-rock band. Poppier than most, definitely, but Jon's Springsteenian tales of boardwalk knockabouts and Richie Sambora's streetwise riffs combined to make a denim-clad, working-class alternative to stacked-heel Sunset Strip skirt-chasers like Mötley Crüe.
Judging by its debut CD, Where I Stand (released last year), Houston's Low Man's Joe is quite familiar with pre-Slippery When Wet Jovi - the woman in "No Heroes" even works in a diner. (All day.) Not only is singer Bret Gyrich's voice a dead ringer for Jon, growling the verses and exalting the choruses, but the music clings tightly to the Jersey boys' Thin Lizzy/Journey axis, with just a hint of Jovi's thrashier Garden State neighbors Skid Row.
The lyrics, meanwhile, peer into the lives of people who don't have a lot (except each other) or a lot to lose, people for whom salvation is a Saturday night on the town. The frustrated desire of "Temptation," on-our-own defiance of "No Heroes," last-chance powerdrive of "Radio Saved (My Life Tonight)" - it's all well-trodden territory, to be sure (and was when Jovi got there too), but why fix something that was never really broke?
With King's X, 8 p.m. Saturday, May 30, at Meridian, 1503 Chartres
It's obvious [LMJ] is a product of hard work and chemistry. Their frontman steals the crowd's attention. They are all solid musicians and they believe in what they are playing. When you have a band with that type of confidence, they push energy into your soul.
Low Man's Joe, of the Heights/Near Town area, will perform on the Patriot Stage at this year's event. They play rock and roll with a mixture of flavors. Combining elements of rock and roll from its glory era with the attitude of modern rock, Low Man's Joe is truly the "evolution of rock and roll!"
I went with the guys from Glass Intrepid to watch Stompin White Pony and Soulbound play one night at Roc Bar. I was hanging out back stage doing a photo shoot for my boys when I met Bret. He did not bother us and was kinda in his own world. When we were done and I was packing up to leave he asked if I was going to stay for his show. I said I could stay for one song, I stayed till the bar closed. They give an amazing show. Bret owns the stage while sharing the spotlight with every member of the band. They are original and with songs headed for the charts - you better catch them local while you can. These boys will playing stadiums soon, so get to a show now while you can still get a ticket!
Bret - Lead Vocals
Bret was born in the Philippines and moved here when he was young. He can be found any given day on Facebook messing with his friends' minds. When you see him, ask him to tell you the one about "what color was the bear." He had me on Google for an hour with that one. He is shy but confident. He knows who he is and why he is here and won't let anyone sidetrack him. He is a good friend who goes out of his way to share his passions with others. He knew I loved the cartoon Animaniacs, so he burned me the entire season - how cool is he?!
John - Drums
John is well-traveled and well-versed. He has stories from every corner of the United States, and given the time, will share them with you. He is hard to see behind those drums, but catch him after the show and he always makes time for a fan.
Up next was a surprise for me, Low Man's Joe. Although Low Man's Joe could be considered a bit on the lighter side of Rock, their stage presence alone made them worthy of a Metal bill such as this. I thought I was content to sit at the bar and watch from afar, but I was wrong. These guys had catchy choruses and riffs that dug into your ear and played over and again long after they left the stage. Bret's voice was unmatched in quality and his energy was legendary (and somewhat frustrating when trying capture the energy in pixilated glory). Low Man's Joe is a sure bet.
I’ve never experienced a band as prepared for a recording session. They had their parts worked out and even pulled off several songs with one take. It’s refreshing to see a group that handles itself with their level of professionalism.
Low Man’s Joe was a great addition to our Lunch Time Concert Series line-up. They were engaging and have a great sound. Not only can they rock, they were incredibly professional and great to work with. We’d definitely have them back.
The former Astroworld grounds set the stage for the first annual Rock the Bayou fest Labor day weekend and Houston's own Low Man's Joe rocked this bayou (more than once throughout the 4-day event) to a very enthusiastic crowd... the following Friday they made their second appearance at Fitzgerald's in the Heights with their extremely entertaining and uplifting show."
Among the artists performing at Rock the Bayou, Low Man's Joe continuously exhibited great talent and professionalism throughout the event. These guys understand what it takes to be a successful band, and if their popularity at Rock the Bayou was any indication, they look to have a very promising career ahead of them.
LMJ has a really fresh rock sound with some immediately catchy songs that grab you from the very beginning and don't let go.
This is rock and roll!