Live Review

Marah - Theatre Of The Living Arts (Philadelphia, PA)

Marah on March 24, 2000

Back from an exhausting few days of industry schmoozing in Austin at the South by Southwest Festival, Marah returned to the city of the Mummers for their "official" Kids in Philly CD release party. Marah seemed as if they were going to blare into Springsteen's "E Street Shuffle". Over the years, Marah's main attraction has been their "let's just rock" attitude -- sometimes appearing a little too drunk, other times looking worn, but always as passionate as youthful rock 'n' roll is meant to be.

Live Review

Pete Droge / Warren Pash / Willy Vlautin - Aladdin Theatre (Portland, OR)

Pete Droge on February 24, 2000

It seems like a long time ago, but I can remember it vividly: the righteous sense of outrage I felt after learning that Husker Du's Bob Mould had written most of his band's material on little more than an acoustic guitar. (The horror!

Live Review

Alison Krauss & Union Station - Chicago Theatre (Chicago, IL)

Alison Krauss & Union Station on March 24, 2000

Music has the power to distract us from crises. The afternoon of this show, as I worried about quarterly tax payments and set about responding to the never-ending tide of e-mail, I inserted Alison Krauss & Union Station's outstanding 1997 Rounder release So Long So Wrong into my computer. Soon, things were starting to get right with the world. Union Station guitarist Dan Tyminski was belting out "The Road Is A Lover", Krauss' inimitable fiddle licks and harmony vocals were riding the melody, and I was doing substantial damage to that pesky electronic In Box.

Live Review

Sacred Steel Convention - Bush Auditorium (Winter Park, FL)

Sacred Steel Convention on December 31, 1969

The first annual Sacred Steel Convention at Rollins College was a two-day affair filled with a powerful sense of family and tradition. Since this event took place outside the confines of the church environment, the steel players were free to focus on the history and the future of their craft. Not only were modern Arhoolie Records mainstays such as the Campbell Brothers in attendance, but the event was also graced by the presence of Sacred Steel forefather Willie Eason.

Live Review

Ani Difranco / Gillian Welch / Greg Brown - Massey Hall (Toronto, Ontario)

Ani DiFranco on March 18, 2000

Just to prove the gods of concert promotion have a sense of mischief, consider the two shows competing for the public's attention in Toronto on this night. At the cavernous SkyDome, Ricky Martin was shaking his bon-bon atop a vintage car in a gaudy, prefab spectacle. Mere blocks away at the century-old classical recital venue Massey Hall, Ani DiFranco, Gillian Welch and Greg Brown were on a bare stage, trading stories and songs.

Live Review

Guadalcanal Diary / Zeitgeist - Liberty Lunch (Austin, TX)

Guadalcanal Diary on May 9, 1985

[Editor's note: The following review was originally submitted to the Austin Chronicle in August 1999 but was not published; it arrived after the paper had already run a roundup of reminiscences about Liberty Lunch by various writers. Given this issue's report about the demise of longtime Chicago club Lounge Ax, it seemed apropos to resurrect this as a way of acknowledging the recent loss of the Lunch, which had been a mainstay in Austin since the early '80s.

Live Review

Bottle Rockets - Lakeside Lounge (Raleigh, NC)

Bottle Rockets on January 16, 2000

Three guys half an arena away -- one behind a small fortress of keyboards, one riding a revolving drum set, and one standing on an Oriental rug -- and two cannons. That sums up my first-ever concert: Emerson, Lake & Palmer on the "Pirates" tour. Twenty-five years later almost to the day, I found myself at the cozy Lakeside Lounge standing eight feet away from three guys on stools -- the one in the middle wearing an old-school Santana t-shirt and black Chuck Taylors (you can bet your Tarkus that Greg Lake's never worn black Chuck Taylors) -- and a guy sitting behind one drum.

Live Review

John Prine / Iris DeMent - Olympia Theatre (Dublin, Ireland)

John Prine on January 17, 2000

Dublin's old Olympia Theatre isn't a place you'd normally picture as a venue for country music. With its exclusive boxes overlooking the stage and ornate Victorian decorations, it's probably more suited to an opera. Despite this, it's a good place for singers such as John Prine and Iris DeMent, who want to retain some kind of intimate atmosphere. Despite the alarmingly high price of the tickets, the venue is full tonight, the punters waiting expectantly to welcome back some old friends who've been away for awhile.

Live Review

Ryan Adams - Mercury Lounge (New York City, NY)

Ryan Adams on January 5, 2000

Two and a half years since the release of Whiskeytown's sadly beautiful Stranger's Almanac, leader Ryan Adams quietly surfaced -- like that mystic groundhog in Punxsutawney -- to perform newly-penned solo material on a midwinter night at New York City's eminent rock womb, the Mercury Lounge. That evening, Adams had confirmed plans to watch Fargo and not smoke cigarettes, but because he lives a bass pick's throw from the club, he made perfect sense as a last-minute fill-in for Philadelphia band Marah, who had canceled.

Live Review

Donnie Fritts & Friends - Norton Auditorium (Florence, AL)

Donnie Fritts & Friends on January 22, 2000

Donnie Fritts began his lifetime in music as a songwriter and session man in Alabama amid the burgeoning Muscle Shoals soul scene of the 1960s. He got the nickname "Flipside" Fritts because his songs tended to end up on the B-side of so many hit singles. When he relocated to Nashville in the '70s, he became part of that city's "outlaw" scene, developing close friendships with John Prine, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson, with whom he also spent 30 years on the road.