Live Review

Whiskeytown / 6 String Drag - Trees (Dallas, TX)

Whiskeytown on January 23, 1998

"If you want to hear it pretty, go listen to our albums." Thus spoke Ryan Adams at the end of a Whiskeytown concert that left some in the crowd disappointed. For those of us who like our country-rock with the needle stuck deep into rock's red zone, though, it was a night to remember. Whiskeytown's six-person lineup included only three musicians from the last Whiskeytown performance in Dallas just a few months ago: Adams, fiddler Caitlin Cary and multi-instrumentalist Mike Daly.

Live Review

S.P.I.T.T.L.E. Festival - The Brewery (Raleigh, NC)

S.P.I.T.T.L.E. Festival on January 30, 1998

The Brewery is the perfect setting for this, the third year of a "Southern Plunge Into Trailer Trash Leisure & Entertainment," with the required amount of dark interior spaces, cramped stage and odd characters such as the weekend's quasi-host, pro wrestler M. C. DaBeers (and his cohort Count Grog, actually the club's booking agent), who incited the crowd to nervous laughter ("Is this guy for real?") and sustained cheering that he claimed would be used on the planned recorded release of highlights from the weekend.

Live Review

X - Trocadero (San Francisco, CA)

X on February 7, 1998

Who was that dapper fellow in the black cotton turtleneck and closely cropped hair walking onstage with John Doe and strapping on a guitar? Billy Zoom (!), looking fit and not a day older than the last time he performed with X in 1986. On this magic night in a steamy, overcrowded San Francisco club, X was back. Zoom's return sparked an obviously great feeling from his fellow band members. The only real visual or musical change from the old days was how much Exene Cervenka smiled.

Live Review

Vic Chesnutt / Lambchop / Paul Burch / Cyod - Lucy's Record Shop (Nashville, TN)

Vic Chesnutt on January 30, 1998

With a mischievous half-smile, Lambchop's Kurt Wagner cut right to the point: "Why the long faces?" Why indeed. The capacity crowd on this Friday night was there to mourn the passing of Lucy's Record Shop, the all-ages venue that for six years made Nashville a stop on indie rock's underground railroad. In 1992, when the Ryman was vacant and Lower Broadway was still a haven for coin-op porn, a relocated New Yorker named Mary Mancini opened the tiny record store in an empty Church Street storefront.

Live Review

Beck - El Rey Theatre (Los Angeles, CA)

Beck on November 19, 1997

Critical darling and platinum seller, Beck the white-boy hip-hopper-folky-faux-James-Brown-punk-jokester is a bona fide star in the alt-rock '90s. But as postmodern as his breakthrough release Odelay is, Beck seems equally at home, if not more so, bowing at the feet of folks such as Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Dylan and Sonny Terry. Time and again, while MTV airs the video for "The New Pollution" for the umpteenth time, the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter might be found working out his rootsy ya-yas elsewhere.

Live Review

Ex-husbands - Lounge Ax (Chicago, IL)

Ex-husbands on October 17, 1997

Getting an audience to listen to your music is always tough for a new band, especially in the tiny little corner of the musical universe that is alternative country (whatever etc.). It means playing opening slots for shows in faraway towns hoping an audience cares, or even shows up. That's what the Ex-Husbands were up to on this night, opening for a couple of acts on local Bloodshot Records, playing for a handful of early birds, barflys and the curious, and even a few fans who owned their debut CD on the small indie label Tar Hut.

Live Review

John Fahey - Tramps (New York City, NY)

John Fahey on November 2, 1997

"How long can I remain legendary?" John Fahey queried to both himself and his audience in response to his invisible emcee's intro. Appearing less frazzled and more affable than in his last visit here almost a year ago, Fahey regarded the well-packed assembly from behind the now-trademark secondhand prescription shades, and seated himself to strap on his rented...Stratocaster? John Fahey, America's steel-string acoustic maestro, gone electric. "Oh yeah, it's all I use now," he commented after the show, citing its inevitable rentability in any town and thus foregoing baggage travel worries.

Live Review

Tribute To Steve Goodman - Medinah Temple (Chicago, IL)

Various Artists on November 13, 1997

By today's standards, celebrating 40 years of anything is a significant milestone deserving of a significant celebration. So Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music celebrated its 40th anniversary and its plan to move to a larger, more modern facility with a benefit concert honoring the memory of one of its own, Steve Goodman, who died of leukemia at the age of 36 in 1984.

Live Review

Son Volt / Buick MacKane - Cat's Cradle (Carrboro, NC)

Son Volt on October 15, 1997

This one was like the feeling you get an hour and a half after slamming down a six-pack of Jolt Cola: sugar up, sugar down. Buick MacKane got the night off to a frenzied start, while Son Volt's headlining set was...well, as consistent as they always are, with everything that implies. As good as the band can be on record, in person Son Volt remains about as energetic and charismatic as Al Gore. Jay Farrar does seem to be taking tentative steps toward opening up.

Live Review

Bill Kirchen & Too Much Fun - Sweetwater Saloon (Mill Valley, CA)

Bill Kirchen on November 21, 1997

Mill Valley is a small village in Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. This is where a lot of the Bay Area rock 'n' roll robber barons moved to in the '70s and '80s, once the royalty checks started rolling in. The Sweetwater, a small bar off of the town square, serves as the local watering hole for the likes of Jorma Kaukonen, John Lee Hooker, the Sons of Champlin and Huey Lewis.