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January 17th, 2009
A band by any other name …

Scene reporter

Jon Napier and Colin McDonald don’t have a formal band name, but they have been playing together for a little over a year, so let’s suggest one. How about, “Napier and McDonald?”

Jon Napier grew up in West Virginia and came down to Texas in 1999, while Colin McDonald hales from Oklahoma and ended up here in 2007. They soon hooked up and the rest, as they say, isn’t quite long enough for history. But they did put on a beautifully blended set of low-key melodic and lyrical songs that seemed far too short last Saturday at Tantra Coffeehouse.

“He was doing an album in a studio that I was engineering at,” said McDonald, recalling how he met Napier.

Said Napier, “The guy that I was usually working with one night said ‘I hope you don’t mind working with this new guy,’ and it took about five minutes before we realized that we could answer each others’ questions. It’s just been nuts ever since. It feels like it’s been ten years but it’s only been a year.”

McDonald’s slower crooning sound is balanced by Napier’s more southern upbeat acoustics, creating a rich, mellow groove. Together they showcase their original sound fairly often at Tantra, though Napier said, “If we’re not playing somewhere, we’re still playing.” The duo takes turns with who does the writing, but not always intentionally..

“Usually, what happens is that we go through spurts,” Napier said. “One of us will really get a lot of songs and ideas and the other one will be sitting still. The way it works is that when one of us is writing, the other one isn’t. When one of us brings a new song to the table, it gets collaborative.”

Asked about the influential artists in his experience, Napier said it was mostly, “real stuff, stuff that’s not made to sell, but stuff that’s made to express. When somebody is doing something, and you can tell that they believe in what they’re doing, and they feel what they’re doing, you can tell they’re real and they’ve got depth.”

Said McDonald, “That’s the stuff that transcends and goes to the whole population instead of one set group.”

Napier and McDonald enjoy performing at Tantra because, said Napier, “It’s really laid back. We play a lot of loud places where we have to strive to be heard. It’s like you’re competing against the crowd. People are sitting there and they’re digging it, then you get done and they’re looking at you like, ‘What.’ The best places to play are the places where people are listening.”

McDonald said he especially enjoys playing, “Freedom,” because, “I think it connects with people. It’s got a kind of a spooky thing to it. That was one of the first ones that we really got in and wrote together. We really like harmony, and we use it a lot in that song. I also like ‘Safety’s Sake,’ because it’s got a really good groove.”

Added Napier, “The original stuff takes a comfortable concentration. When we come out of one of those that’s got a lot of stuff in it that we have to remember, it’s kinda nice to go in to the blues. It’s just real and it makes something move in you.”

McDonald recently released an album, “Close To Closure,” which was a collaborative effort with Napier.

“I wrote ’em and we did what we do to it, basically,” said McDonald. “We’re both very multi-instrumental people.”

To listen to some tracks featuring both Napier and McDonald, or for upcoming shows, check out or

Photos courtesy of Napier and McDonald

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