March 24, 2007
Ever since I moved to Texas, I’ve always had a difficult relationship with country music. There’s country music that I just can’t seem to get enough of – like Johnny Cash or Robert Earl Keen or Gram Parsons or any number of genre defying “alt country” acts; but then, on the other hand, it can very easily cross that thin, abstract line that separates “good country” from country radio pop, or that special Texas-centric brand of dreary redneck country or anything that twangs without any sense of fun or adventure.
But that being said; there’s also a particular kind of straight up, no apologies country music that’s all about having a great time.
Eleven Hundred Springs plays that kind of country.
If there’s one thing these guys always seem to bring, it’s a damn good time. They brought that and even more to the show at Lee Harvey’s Saturday night.
For one thing, to be redundant, it was at Lee Harvey’s. On a good night, when the weather cooperates, Lee Harvey’s is pretty much the best venue in town. The weather cooperated Saturday night. It cooperated in a big way.
The firepits were blazing even though it was a pretty mild night. That put a little woodsmoke in the breeze. It had that perfect Texas spring night vibe. Then there was the crowd. As is usually the case with ELH, cowboys and hippies, drunks and stoners and even the usual crowd of downtown urban dwellers all came, mingled and a bunch of them even brought their dogs.
There were a lot of dogs. That’s another one of my favorite aspects of Lee Harvey’s, the dog friendliness of it.
The band was clearly into it as well. They played their time honored Bob Wills and Johnny Cash covers, a bunch of old favorite originals and some new stuff too.
It’s been a long time since these guys released a disc, 2004 in fact. But they’ve been playing all that time and it shows.
I’m pretty sure those were some new guitars Matt Hillyer was slinging and that high lonesome thing he does with his very distinctive voice was sounding better than ever. The new songs they played were great on first listen, so that new disc they say they’re going to be recording later this spring could be very promising.
It was sure good to be at a Lee Harvey’s show again. The place has improved since my last visit there – they’ve added a new patio bar to the right of the stage. Other than that, and the bigger than typical crowd, it still had the laid back atmosphere and great music that make it such a cool place to hang out. And with free parking, moderate bar prices, the downtown skyscrapers looming on the near horizon, perfect weather, Eleven Hundred Springs and, of course, the dogs- where, in Dallas anyway, would have been a better place to be?