The Gourds, Longhorn Saloon, Ft Worth, June 27, 2009 It was about 3:00 or so Saturday afternoon when I called our friends in Ft Worth to cancel out on the evenings festivities. It really did look pretty hopeless at that point; stranded in a 7-11 parking lot off I-30 in Arlington, sweltering in the 100 degree heat, waiting for a tow truck to come and take our badly overheated car back home. Then I suppose it was due to the angels intervening on our behalf but things all started coming together in our favor. The tow truck showed up hours before we were expecting it and got us home just in time for a neighbor to offer to loan us his car and just like that, it was on again! So after all the high drama we still made it out to the Fort Worth Stockyards and got to the newly re-opened Longhorn Saloon plenty early enough to score a choice table. It’s a very nice room, that Longhorn Saloon, with a couple of levels, three bars, reasonably good sound and it’s got a whole lot of history too. After Saturday night’s Gourds show, they can probably add another chapter
The Wildflower Festival in Richardson is one of the biggest music festivals in North Texas. It’s a big, sprawling three day event that usually features a fairly diverse lineup that’s maybe a little heavy on the classic rock.
I can still remember when I first heard the Jayhawks in the early nineties. A friend had given me a tape of Hollywood Town Hall and my first response was “Neil Young could probably sue those guys.” I think I might have said that once or twice when the subject of the Jayhawks came up but after a few listens… and then a few more… those songs started working their way into my head on a cellular level. I quit making snarky comments about them and started playing them all the time.
Over the course of three records they managed to forge a sound that was, at the same time, highly derivative and highly original and became one of my very favorite bands.
Yeah, they were more white-guy-folk-rock than the "alt country" label they were tagged with. Their early seventies “Southern Man” style riffs and long guitar jams merged with vaguely abstract lyrics and those ethereal harmonies between songwriters Mark Olson and Gary Louris, created a bunch of stubbornly enduring songs that could stick in your head like superglue.
After Olson left the band at their creative peak in ‘95, despite teaming up with his then-wife Victoria Williams, he kind of faded into obscurity while Louris kept the Jayhawks going, changing their sound pretty dramatically on the next two albums.
I caught an Olson solo show last year. It was a great night of quiet acoustic music with a few Jayhawks songs but there was definitely something missing. Obviously what was missing was Gary Louris.
So when Olson and Louris had put out a new acoustic record and booked a show in town, at the Sons of Herman Hall no less, I’m sure I wasn’t the only person around here who was overly excited at the opportunity.
Friday night they showed this town just what was lost when they went their separate ways long over a decade ago. You can take your Simon and Garfunkel and your Tweedy and Farrar and your Johnny and June and even your She and Him… If ever two people were born to sing together it was Olson and Louris.
Message from Jess Barr, guitarist for Slobberbone / The Drams:
Early this morning my car was broken into and all of my equipment was stolen. This includes my red matchless clubman 35 head and cabinet, my black gig bag with cables and pedals, and, most importantly, my Gibson Les Paul Gold Top.
The Saturday before St Patrick’s Day is the one day every year when Dallas seems almost a little bit like Mardi Gras in New Orleans. A little. People start setting up their party base camps in parking lots for the big parade real early. Kegs, beer bongs, makeshift bars set up on portable tables, lots of people wearing lots of crazy green shit and even lots of dogs wearing crazy green shit. By the time the floats start rolling down Greenville Avenue at 11:00 AM sharp the general ambiance is pretty much mass public intoxication. And crazy shit. And of course I mean that in the best possible way.
After the parade is the big concert in a big fenced in parking lot and this year it featured some of the best of Dallas’ alt-country-roots rock scene. The O’s, The Drams, Eleven Hundred Springs and The Old 97s.
The crowd was kind of thin but you could no doubt chalk that up to the weather- it was cold, windy and the cloud cover was threatening drenching rain at any moment. Still, for the faithful that did show up, it was as fine a day of music as a drunken partier decked out in a spray painted fake beard, 2 lbs of beads and a big green hat could hope for. And I saw more than a few of those.
It really hasn’t been all that long since Slobberbone broke up. Just a few years.
And you could make the argument that they didn’t really break up at all, just went through another personnell change, changed their name to The Drams and tweaked their sound a little.
So why did Tuesdsay night’s show at Dan’s seem like such a return to a time long ago?
They were billed as Whiskey Glass Eye, the world’s premiere Slobberbone tribute band but there wasn’t a person in the jam packed club that night that didn’t know it was a reunion show. Brent Brest, Jess Barr, Tony Harper and the return of Brian Lane (with Scott Danbaum sitting in on about half the set.)
Tom Waits at The Palladium Ballroom, Dallas 6/23/08
I don’t usually make it out to shows on Monday night. But in this case, Tom Waits (Yes, that Tom Waits) playing his first show here in thirty years, my first ever opportunity to see him live, I think I can make an exception…
The Palladium was already packed when we got there just a few minutes after eight. We took a spot on the floor where it was as hot and crowded as the bowels of Hell. Somehow, that seemed kind of fitting.
The stage was set up pretty minimally with a bunch of horn like speaker-phones of varying sizes mounted on a huge trellis in the back and three more big speaker-phones up front suspended with some lights hanging down on the left side of them, giving the whole thing an off-kilter, slightly cartoonish quality. It was perfect.
At about 8:30 or so, just enough time to grab a beer at the shortest bar line we could find, Tom Waits and his band came out and launched straight into “Lucinda” from his most recent 3 disc set, Orphans. He stood center stage, dressed in a dark suit and a bowler hat. He waved his hands around, shook his fingers and bellowed it out just the way you would imagine Tom Waits would do. He was totally mesmerizing.
Back in the day, when “alt country” was still an indefinable thing, something you couldn’t really nail down specifically but you always knew it when you heard it, before the corporate record music people got together and dubbed it and anything remotely like it “Americana,” The Old 97s were in the vanguard of that insurgent sub-genre.
Slacker Country was deeply saddened to hear of Chris Gaffney’s passing on Thursday, April 17 . We didn’t even know he was undergoing chemotherapy for liver cancer.
He fronted The Hacienda Brothers and was lately a regular member of Dave Alvin’s band The Guilty Men, as well as a truly great solo performer. He combined the best elements of country, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, zydeco and tejano music to create his own sound, East LA Soul.
Here’s a clip of him performing “In The Garden” with his old band, The Cold Hard Facts