Live Review

Ramblin' Jack Elliott / Bill Morrissey - The Bottom Line (New York City, NY)

Ramblin' Jack Elliott on May 11, 1999

Though you'll probably never see them on VH1, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Bill Morrissey are still an interesting pair of storytellers. On one hand is Morrissey, who weaves his tales in songs that burst with exquisite detail, like well-crafted short stories. On the other hand is Elliott, whose between-song asides frequently last longer than the songs themselves (his nickname is well-deserved). These two types of raconteurs were brought together for this show, and the result was an evening that seemed more like an informal get-together than an actual concert.

Live Review

Merlefest - Wilkes Community College (Wilkesboro, NC)

Merlefest on December 31, 1969

The summer bluegrass festival season begins with this annual event, honoring Doc Watson's son, Merle (who died in a 1985 tractor accident). Or at least the festival season begins; summer itself wasn't quite on schedule, for Thursday night there were reports of two inches of snow up the road in Boone. By the weekend the sun had joined the party, and one could pay closer attention to the pressing details of scheduling, instead of seeking shelter and warmth.

Live Review

By The Hand Of The Father ("Un Viaje Del Siglo Veinte") - Las Manitas (Austin, TX)

By The Hand Of The Father on March 19, 1999

Alejandro Escovedo's music has always crossed many borders, and dealt with issues of families, fathers and children. Which makes him the perfect choice as music composer for By The Hand Of The Father, a theatrical work-in-progress by Los Angeles-based About Productions, which had a private invite-only debut at the South by Southwest Music Festival. This was a preview version (the full performance will debut next year), and in spite of a few rough edges, the production is already tremendously compelling.

Live Review

Neil Young - Paramount Theatre (Seattle, WA)

Neil Young on March 5, 1999

Going through the motions in style might best describe Neil Young's solo performance at the Paramount, the first U.S. date of a two-month theater tour. Extremely high ticket prices ($80 for a seat halfway back on the main floor) only helped to foster high expectations for the show which, while it didn't exactly disappoint, came off surprisingly slight given the intimate setting and the appealing set list.

Live Review

Haynes Boys / Burn Barrel - Lakeside Lounge (New York City, NY)

Haynes Boys on March 11, 1999

When are the Haynes Boys not really the Haynes Boys? When they're Burn Barrel, apparently. After their debut CD and an acclaimed solo effort from lead singer Tim Easton, the Haynes Boys have teamed up with fellow Ohioan J.P. Olsen to release Reviled under the Burn Barrel moniker. To promote the disc, the band(s) embarked on a three-night New York City swing, which culminated at the intimate Lakeside Lounge, where, chances are, you'll get really close to your neighbor by night's end.

Live Review

Greg Trooper - Pine Hill Farm (Durham, NC)

Greg Trooper on March 6, 1999

A guitar, a picker, a living room. It's a pretty foolproof combination, whether it involves your neighbor Sally who sounds a little like Lucinda Williams, or your Uncle Scott who swears his old outfit opened for a band who opened for Poco, or the latest Pine Hill Farm visitor, Greg Trooper. There's no better way to experience music. Perhaps there's no better way to present music, either.

Live Review

Dave Alvin / Robbie Fulks - Double Door Inn (Charlotte, NC)

Dave Alvin on March 2, 1999

The Americana Showcase Night is a regular Tuesday night affair at the Double Door Inn. In the beginning, the Rank Outsiders got together with fellow Charlotte musicians Lenny Federal, David Childers, and Michael Reno Harrell; later, the Willy Evans Trio, a blues outfit, joined up as well. In the series' first year, the locals would all play sets, then jam at the end of the night. When that started to wear thin, they started to book touring acts looking for a good gig on a Tuesday.

Live Review

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Fillmore (San Francisco, CA)

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers on March 16, 1999

It was an early Sunday morning in late February. Tickets for Tom Petty's seven-night residency at San Francisco's legendary Fillmore were ready to go on sale, and a friend and I were queued up outside a local Ticketmaster outlet. Fourth in line. We just had to score tickets. At least, I knew I did. I was back east when Petty and band held court at the same venue for twenty shows back in 1996. And I've had to hear how great those shows were for the last two years. Some twenty minutes and seven thousand tickets later, we came up empty. Damn. Fortunately, said friend is connected.

Live Review

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

S.P.I.T.T.L.E. Festival on January 29, 1999

They really do grow up fast. It's hard to believe that S.P.I.T.T.L.E. Fest, the Brewery's annual two-night blowout featuring roots-rockers, country-rockers and other Merle- and Buck-conscious subspecies, is already three years old. Here's a S.P.I.T.T.L.E. Fest diary; all times and recollections are approximate... Friday night 7-7:45: Hometowners Big Joe usher in early comers with loud 'n' catchy guitar-rock songs from their upcoming self-release while revealing just enough twang factor, a la Bare Jr., to have no one question their spot on the roster.

Live Review

"A Night On The Townes" With Butch Hancock & Friends - Cactus Cafe (Austin, TX)

Butch Hancock on March 7, 1999

Sending the crowd home after more than three hours of intoxicating music, Butch Hancock advised, "As Townes would say, 'When you leave out of here, drive real fast, and maybe they won't catch me.'" The gathering of friends, fans and family at Van Zandt's favorite Austin club had been billed as "A Night On The Townes," and it was the sort of party the troubadour would have enjoyed.