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  Rick Wood's Concert Diary - Vol. 56

Rick Wood's Concert Diary - Vol. 56

6/30/07 Bill Kirchen, Beale On Broadway.  Another great night at this great outdoor space.  The temperature (mid 70s) and crowd size (maybe 120 people) were just right.  I found my crew of friends at a table up close about midway through BK’s first set.  Backed by a solid rhythm section, BK’s guitar playing was all over the place: high-end, low end, arpeggios, crunchy chords, jazzy riffs, down and dirty boogie-woogie and many points in between.  Early on, he announced he was gonna do a few “geezer pleasers”…a mni-set of songs from his days as lead guitar player in Commander Cody’s Lost Planet Airmen: “Wine Do Your Stuff”, “Down To Seeds And Stems Again Blues” and “Semi Truck” all hit that spot and took me back to the mid-seventies when I was first hearing (and loving) these songs.  Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changin” showed up somewhere in this set as did “Hammer Of The Honky-Tonk Gods”…some original twang from this century.  Almost every time I’ve seen Bill K play, he’s used “Hot Rod Lincoln” as the night’s grand finale.  He’s finally broken this pattern, using this CC staple to close out set one, complete with the usual non-stop string of famous guitar riffs.
Set two was more of the same, which could sound formulaic, but this stuff is so up my alley, that I was loving round two of: more Commander Cody favorites (“Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette”, “Mama Hated Diesels”,  & “Looking At The World Through A Windshield”), another Dylan cover (“Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat”) and a few newer ones (“Soul Cruisin” &  “Truck Stop At The End Of The World”), all with more impressive guitar.  Everyone (myself included) was thoroughly pleased as set two wound down around 1AM, at which point, Kirchen left the stage by saying "Thanks, we're gonna take a short break and be right back.”  Damn.
It was really late, but he was really great...quite the dilemma.  Spencer, Angela and I (along with maybe 30 other people) stuck it out for set three: another Dylan cover (“Tom Thumb's Blues”) a couple of Nick Lowe songs (“I Knew The Bride” & “When I Write The Book”…BK played lead in Nick’s band for a while) and a few more covers (“Sleepwalk”, “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke” &  “The Streets Of Baltimore”) and originals (“Skid Row In My Mind”, “Tombstone Every Mile” and “Womb To The Tomb”).  He finally ended around 2:30. I got to bed after 3.  This geezer was pleased. 
7/7/07 Emmylou Harris, Live On The Levee.  We took the whole family down to this free outdoor show, not knowing how it would go…sure, we both love Emmylou, but would the kids have the patience for the crowd/heat/music?  Would the crowd be a bunch of party people more intent on socializing than listening to a world-class, if subtle, vocalist?  One way to find out…
The scene was actually pretty nice.  The Park Service had the area between the arch and the river partitioned off so that they could screen people for coolers/beer/glass (all no-nos) and then once inside this area, things were surprisingly low-key.  We found a spot for the four of us to sit (bring some kind of cushion next time) toward the top of the arch steps.  In front of us was a goofy white couple swaying like goofy white people while beside us was a black dude talking on his cell phone; he actually complied when I asked him to keep it down.
So about the music…relative to the impressive lineups I’ve seen ELH play with over the years (The Hot Band, The Nash Ramblers & Spyboy), this current crew (guitar, stand-up bass & bongos/mandolin) was adequate, if less than stellar. The PA was surprisingly clear and the crowd was surprisingly quiet and respectful.  Some songs just seemed to sit there (Neil’s “After the Gold Rush” (lyrics revised to “and I felt like I could cry”) struck me as a bit obvious), but quite a few grabbed me. “Evangeline” (the lyrics reference the Mississippi River, rolling by in the background), “Beneath Still Waters” (a possible warning to anyone considering swimming across the river), “In My Dreams”, “Goin’ Back To Harlan”, and a trio of heartbreaking ballads: “Boulder To Birmingham”, The Beatles’ “For No One”, and Dolly’s “To Daddy”.   Surprisingly, the kids were patient enough to make it through the whole set.  They even tolerated Nancy and me getting all smoochy during the encore (“Save The Last Dance For Me”).  Their patience was rewarded when the fireworks (launched from a barge moored out in the river) started up almost instantly after the music stopped.




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