Hannah Read doesn’t live in Waco anymore. But in her band Lomelda’s song “Brazos River,” and throughout album “Forever,” she remembers the city, and the nights she rode her bike down University Parks and watched the sun rise from the Waco Suspension Bridge.
As she sings on “Brazos River,” Read drove away from Waco to see all the things that she hadn’t seen before. But instead of going north, as she does in the song, she went to Austin. Today, she’s coming back to Waco to play at Common Grounds at 8 p.m., along with fellow Waco-rooted bands Tapajenga and Evan and the Condors.
Read, drummer Zach Daniel, and former bassist bandmate Andrew Hulett played their first show as Lomelda at Common Grounds, where Read worked while she was an undergraduate at Baylor.
“There’s something about Waco that makes it a great place to work and create,” Read said. “The cost of living is low, and you have the luxury of time to create because you’re not always stuck in traffic.”
Lomelda recorded its most recent album “Forever” in Waco and released it in October. Read said the album’s expansive melodies and complex rhythms came out of recording in the heat and quiet of Waco’s summer.
“Waco was extremely influential in the sound and themes of that record,” Read said. “The welcoming attitude of people and also the more isolating tendencies you can have in a town like that where there’s not a huge music identity affected the music.”
While Waco may not have the musical identity of her new home in Austin, Read found a few local musicians to play and perform with during her time here. In 2011, she was a member of the band Dormer with her brother Tommy Read and with guitarist Paul Mitchell, who now plays in Tapajenga.
Mitchell has been playing in Austin with Tapajenga for the last year. Before that, he came to Baylor in 2005, taking three years off after his sophomore year to play in bands like Dormer, Goodfellow and Judas Feet. During his time as a musician in Waco, he played with Read, her brother Tommy Read and Evan Lecker of Evan and the Condors.
“Playing with people like Evan, Hannah and Tommy Read shaped me a lot,” Mitchell said. “When I moved to Waco I just knew how to play chords on guitar. When I lived there, I learned how to actually play.”
Mitchell also worked at Common Grounds during his time here, splitting time between the coffee counter and the stage. He said he continues to consider Waco his hometown and looks forward to any opportunity to play with old friends and bandmates.
Of course, Tapajenga’s style has changed since the band worked in Waco full-time. Mitchell said his songs have hushed and quieted, perhaps as a testament to his own growing maturity.
Read said Lomelda’s music has changed has well, adopting more varied tones and textures to exert a stronger emotional pull on the band’s audience. However, Read said the band has held to the intentions it had when it played its very first show at Common Grounds.
“The core of Lomelda has always been the same. We talk a lot about home and what it means to be with other people, connecting and interacting,” Read said.
When Lomelda, Tapajenga and Evan and the Condors play tonight, they will be coming home, in a way, to the place where they got their first start.