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.
Old 97s – Blame It On Gravity
New West Records
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.
The Old 97s and The Drams
New Year’s Eve at The Longhorn Ballroom, Dallas
There’s something about the Longhorn Ballroom.
Something that hits you the minute you walk through the door. The room just permeates history from every corner and crevice. It’s an awesome place, in the truest sense of the word awesome. For one thing, it’s as big as an aircraft hangar. For another, it’s the real thing.
Any performer who was anybody in country music played there back in the day. Bob Wills owned the place in the 50s and 60s. Later, it was resurrected briefly in the 80s as a live music venue banking on its biggest claim to fame that it hosted The Sex Pistol’s Dallas show just a few short days before that band broke up.
Having seen a number of shows there through the years, I can personally attest that just being on that enormous stage, where so many came before and made history, seems to inspire bands to go above and beyond what anyone would expect of them.
I had all that in mind and more when we went there on New Years Eve to see The Old 97s, The Drams and The Boys Named Sue.
On the whole, 2005 was a pretty good year for alt country music. Considering that, as a genre, it had been previously declared dead or dying, there was an awful lot of great alt country music to be had last year. A lot of what came across the radar screen never made it to the review pages of SlackerCountry. We would like to take this opportunity to address that particular oversight with this top 5 unreviewed releases list: