Photo Caption: Thick Ankle Nancy is the house band at Austin’s Barbecue. Its members are (from left) Wendell Brooks, Brandon Bryan, and Trey Cooper.
Just when you think you’ve got the Albany music scene all understood and neatly categorized, it gives birth to something nobody was expecting. Such was the case about four or five months ago along the musical way in our fair city, as three local young men got together to create “the sickest song ever written”, according the band’s Facebook page, one that they did not record, and soon forgot. From that creative mind meld sprang Thick Ankle Nancy.
Trey Cooper, Brandon Bryan and Wendell Brooks have been quickly building a local reputation for offering up gutsy, top shelf, blues and soulful rock classics. Their sound and energy, cleverly masks their age and how long Think Ankle Nancy has been out on the streets. With influences like The Allman Brothers, North Mississippi Allstars, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Derek Trucks Band, Bob Dylan, The Black Crowes, The Band, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Keb’ Mo’, and Eric Clapton, Thick Ankle Nancy brings styles of the past forward to stake out their own claim in the genre. Their treatment of the Allman Brother’s “Whipping Post”, while rekindling the original’s blues texture, comes across as if they came up with it on their own, from their own personal trials.
Thick Ankle Nancy seems to be a natural fit for the area venues they play. The crowds at Shugs BBQ, Harvest Moon, Austin’s, and Moultrie’s Blue Sky Grille, to name a few, have had the distinct pleasure of watching this auspicious beginning. Trey, the youngest at 17, is a Lee County High School senior, and leads on vocals, guitar, and harmonica. Wendell, the oldest at 25, backs up on vocals, and plays bass, while 21 year old Brandon drives the trio on drums and percussion.
TAN got its official start at Shugs, on Philema Road. Trey had been playing solo gigs, while Brandon and Wendell were playing in the area with other groups, but none had locked into anything that seemed to stick. Shugs had already booked Trey for some one-man performances but thanks to his girlfriend who knew Wendell, and Brandon’s sister that shared a class with Trey, the solo gigs evolved into the first night out for Thick Ankle Nancy. Right away, the three and those fortunate patrons of Shugs knew it was going to be hard to get her back in the house.
Cooper says their sound comes from a shared passion for the music of what he called “the best time in music”, referring to the ‘60s and ‘70s. The power trio lineup is no fluke. There was an effort to form a larger, six- or seven-piece band, but the feel of the three-an set up seemed to be the perfect way to go. “We draw a lot from other three man acts of that period like Cream and Jimi Hendricks Experience,”aid Cooper. The results certainly back him up on that. The guys have no desire to mimic what they hear as the “packaged’ sound of most pop music today. They much prefer to stick with what they call the “real” stuff; music that is performed just as much with the heart and soul as it is instruments and voice.
Their very rapid rise to local prominence has Thick Ankle Nancy working hard to wrap up a collection of original material, as they stay booked doing sets of well-known classics. While they are certainly grateful for the strong support from the serious Thick Ankle Nancy crowd known as “Anklets”, Cooper pointed out, “We are not interested in simply being a good cover band”. Two original songs are done, about three others are in the works, and they are giving thought to a few more. It’s all a bit heady, but they don’t seem to mind a bit.
And what about that name? Who is Thick Ankle Nancy? As with so many other things that come to be in Middle America these days, it happened at Wal-Mart. One of the guys was in a hurry to grab his father a card for Father’s Day, and there it was. Mixed in with all the typical rest, was an odd card showing an oddly attired woman, with large hair and a reference on the inside to the fact that “Thick Ankle Nancy did not get out much”. It just seemed to fit, and so it did.
Well she is certainly out now, and being rapidly booked all over the area. As of print time, the band is set to play the Blue Sky Grille in Moultrie on Oct. 17, The Powerline in Damascus on Oct. 23, at Darton College’s ‘Foodstock ‘09 in Albany on Oct. 29, and Harvest Moon on Nov. 6, with private parties sprinkled all around, up through the first week of December. For more information, go looking for Thick Ankle Nancy on Facebook or MySpace. You can’t miss her.
Written by Lon McNeil. Mr. McNeil is an Albany independent marketing consultant. Find him online at AlbanyOnPoint.