Amanda Shires @ The Sons of Hermann Hall

Dallas, June 29, 2007

notoddforyou The Todd Snider show at the Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas Thursday night was called off at the last minute when word came that Todd’s flight out of Nashville was cancelled. Damn rain! We arrived early to find the handwritten sign pictured here tacked to the door.

I saw quite a few people leave unhappy but our little group thought, "What the hell?  We’re here, the opening act, The Amanda Shires Band, is still playing, there’s no cover and we can come back later in July and see Todd."  You know, wherever you go, there you are.

It turned out to be the best possible decision.

shires&picott The night’s second surprise came when we walked into a near-empty Sons’ Ballroom and there, on the merchandise table, were a bunch of Rod Picott CDs next to Amanda’s self produced 2005 disc, "Being Brave." For those of you who don’t know, Rod Picott (pronounced pie-cot) is a talented and gravelly-voiced (in a Tom Waits-ish kind of way) singer songwriter. He’s also a favorite of SlackerCountry’s Naomi. She turned me onto him a couple years ago. Turns out that, for the time being at least, he’s also the acoustic guitarist and one third of The Amanda Shires Band. The other two thirds are Amanda Shires (Thrift Store Cowboys) on vocals and fiddle and local player Todd Pertll (Deadman) on pedal steel. Pertll also played some dobro and banjo.

The nicest surprise came when they started their set.

Shire’s voice is every bit as gorgeous as she is herself and her songs were surprisingly good. She sounds a little bit like Norah Jones – with some twang. She played subtle, melodic arrangements that accentuated her singing and fiddle playing perfectly.

She also seemed totally natural, unpretentious, and just exuded genuine, down to earth charm. She seemed a little surprised and grateful that anyone had hung around at all and even more surprised at the highly favorable audience response. I got the sense that everyone there was very happy they stayed.

Her set bore more resemblance to Thrift Store Cowboys than much of Being Brave. There are several of the songs she played live and they’re very nice on the record but there’s also some vaguely bluegrass, old timey-type fiddle instrumentals. It only hints at the talent she displayed at the Sons.

She played a short set, maybe forty five minutes, thanked everybody and started to exit the stage but the small crowd wasn’t having any of that. She ended up playing another five or six songs before turning it over to Picott . They closed with “Gun Shy Dog” from his ’04 release "Girl From Arkansas".

She was being encouraged to stay and play more but by that time they apparently had exhausted the trio’s repertoire.

I know a lot of people left that night pretty disappointed but to promoter Mike Snider’s credit, he made the best of the situation. For both Amanda Shires and the handful folks who stayed to check her out, it was ultimately a win-win. We got to hear a fresh new voice in an entirely new format play an extended set that wasn’t overshadowed by the ultra-talented Todd Snider, And I happen to know Amanda Shires made more than one table full of new fans. Oh, and if I heard correctly, she’ll be back again to open for Todd Snider at the rescheduled, July 20 show. I’d recommend getting there early if you’re going.

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