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  Rick Wood's Concert Diary - Vol. 71

Rick Wood's Concert Diary - Vol. 71

8/15/08 James Intveld, house concert.  The band showed up around 4:30, Rosie Flores leading the way…having played (and stayed) here a couple of times before, she’s kinda like family at this point.  She introduced the band as everyone came inside.  James quickly sized up our setup and told the drummer to just bring in one snare drum and a hi-hat.  We always defer to the band, whatever they wanna do, but ultimately, things sound better when they adapt their sound to our modest-sized room. They did a brief sound-check to get things just right.
There were maybe eighty people in the house when James Intveld and band (b, d & g) opened with “Small Town Boy” and “This Place Ain't What It Used To Be”, a couple of melodic ballads from his brand-new Have Faith CD.  James is one cool dude, with his evocative, inspired vocals, slicked-back hair, denim shirt and leather vest.  All the girls think he’s hot.
Early on, he also did “You Say Goodnight, I'll Say Goodbye” (imagine Roy Orbison singing “Good Year For The Roses”), “Living Without You” (this one hits a similar spot as “Please Help Me I’m Falling” or “Making Believe”) and “Let’s Get Started” (with the approximate feel of “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”).  Storm Rhode was impressive on guitar throughout.  He played an Albert Lee autographed Telecaster, but also referenced Pete Anderson and James Burton along the way.  The prevailing tone was dark and hypnotic, along the lines of Roy O or Chris Isaak.
The tempo went up a couple of clicks when James granted a couple of my requests.  Don Gibson’s “Blue Blue Day” and “My Heart Is Aichin For You” both have a hopped-up, melodic swing to them and gave Storm another chance to shine on the solos.  James told a nice story about how he met Rosie Flores and wrote a song for her in the early eighties.  He then called Rosie up to sing with him on “Cryin’ Over You”.  “Have Faith” (the title track of James’ brand-new CD) has a groove reminiscent of that Motown song “Walk And Don’t Look Back”.  He ended his long opening set with “Remember Me”.
After the usual re-beer break, Rosie Flores (backed by the same b/d/g trio), opened her set with “Palomino Days”, dedicated to Suzanne Miller, an L.A. transplant who used to see Rosie & James at the Palomino club back in the eighties.  Robbie Fulks’ “I Push Right Over” showed up early in the set…it has an easygoing, melodic feel to it.  This long set featured lots of spirited leads, traded back and forth between Rosie and Storm….several solos led to spontaneous applause from the crowd.  The leads on Johnny Cash’s “Country Boy” got an especially long instrumental workout, as Storm’s leads referenced “Train Kept Rollin” and “Secret Agent Man”.  A couple of slower covers followed: James Intveld’s “Blue Angel” and The Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant” (with all the right emphasis on all the right syllables).
About midway through her set, Rosie brought James back up to join her on a long string of duets, beginning with a stunning version of The Everlys’ “Don’t Let Our Love Die”. They later traded verses on “God May Forgive You” (written by Harlan Howard for Rosie) while Storm got all Willie Nelson on guitar.  Other highlights included “Love And Danger” (a George & Tammy style duet, co-written with Jason Ringenberg).
James left the “stage” as Rosie and band wound things out with “Big River” (complete with audience clap-along as Storm & Rosie ripped it up on guitars), “Driving Wheel” and “Boxcars” (had a relaxed, hypnotic tone to it).  James got back up one last time for my personal highlight of the evening… “Somebody Loses, Somebody Wins” provided a nice vehicle for one last breathtaking James/Rosie C & W ballad.  This extended set ran well over 90 minutes, ending on a rocker…Storm and Rosie once again trading slick licks as the crowd came to their feet.
After selling and signing a few CDs, the band was treated to an amazing late-night dinner.  Suzanne (owner/chef of the new Deluxe restaurant…check it out) served up Caesar salad, beef tenderloin, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans and cake.  After the last few guests filtered out and Rosie went off to bed, the rest of us hung out late night…James was the last man standing when I went off to bed at around 2AM.  A few hours later, we fed the band breakfast and sent them on their way to a big outdoor festival in Wisconsin…seems like they just got here.
8/20/08 Miles Of Wire, Off Broadway.  Tonight was a mini-flashback to the days of Frederick’s Music Lounge…I did the family thing until around 10:30, drove down to south city and walked into the bar right at eleven.  Just inside the door was Paul, Fred and Bob (all former Frederick’s employees).  After a lengthy “stop and chat” I headed into the barroom where Jason Riley (& friends: lap steel, washboard & bass) were playing in front of maybe 20 people.  Early on, he did a gruff but tuneful song that sounded like Ben Weaver covering Jackson Browne’s “These Days”.  A couple of songs later, I went outside to the smoker’s area to say “Hi” with a few people.  There were almost as many people hanging out outside as there were inside, listening to the band.  That would occasionally happen at Frederick’s, too. 
It wasn’t too hot outside and I had a good time catching up with a few people (I don’t get out much).  A handful of us headed back inside when Miles Of Wire started up.  When it comes to predicting what will become popular and what won’t, I’m at a total loss.  These guys play achingly beautiful pop/rock songs to “crowds” of 20 people.  Raphael Maurice writes ‘em and sings ‘em like he means it while the band lays on all of the right accents; lead guitar and bass are particularly expressive/impressive.  The only song I recognized was “Ohio”.  In this one, Raphael hangs out the line, “beautiful friend…”, conveying a convincing combination of betrayal and unconditional love.  Don’t look for these guys to be the next big thing, but I sure was moved.  I’m out of practice for getting to bed at 2:30 on a weeknight.
8/23/08 Blue Mountain, Lucas School House.  Springsteen was playing downtown tonight, but I decided to save my money and ended up at this smaller-scale (in every sense of the word) setting.  I totally missed the opening act because I was having such a good time hanging with everyone in the outdoor courtyard. 
I’ve seen Blue Mountain a handful of times in the last few months, so there were no major revelations tonight …the usual good time with friends and one of my favorite bands.  Tonight’s show was billed as one of a handful of CD release parties; they’ve simultaneously released Midnight In Mississippi, an album of all new material as well as an album of new recordings of a bunch of their classic songs called Omnibus.  In two long sets, they managed to get to most of the songs on each.  Having heard (and described) these songs a few times recently, I’m gonna give a less detailed rundown this time.
To the best of my memory, set one included “70’s Song”, “Lakeside”, “Myrna Lee”, “Soul Sister”, “Blue Canoe” and “Wink”.  Set one ended when a broken string abbreviated their romp through the southern boogie rave-up, “Poppa”.
Set two opened with some unfinished business, as Cary redid “Poppa”, with all six strings.  Don’t hold me to the exact order, but they continued with a good mix of old and new songs, including “Butterfly”, “Jimmy Carter” and “Midnight In Mississippi”.  Somewhere in there, a contingent arrived from downtown, gushing about the Springsteen show that had just ended (“best set list of the seventeen shows I’ve seen on this tour!”).  Just like at the house concert a few months ago, Blue Mountain closed things out with “Ooh La La” in the encore.  Afterwards, many of the same people who were at our place in May hung out catching up with each other and the band.  I got home around 2AM.
8/30/08 Charliehorse, The Ranch House.  This weekend felt a little bit like a wedding…the night before the big event, I met all of the out-of-town guests, some familiar (Walt, Jean Anne, Liz) and some new faces (the band…who pretty quickly became friends through the power of “friends-of-friends” and beer).  We sat around the table out back at Dave and Angela’s place talking and carrying on until way late.  Somewhere in there, a crew came back from an expedition to Steak And Shake…junk food all around.  Eventually, the band broke out their guitars and sang a few songs.  The only ones I remember were Gram’s “A Song For You”, Bruce’s “Atlantic City” and an original by Ben that contrasts what the singer is doing to what Jeff Tweedy is doing.  Call this evening the rehearsal dinner.
The next day, we all milled about in small groups in our respective corners of town, nursing our hangovers, tending to a few chores and getting ready for the big event (in this case, the house concert).  When Nancy and I showed up an hour before show time, I already felt some kind of kinship with my late-night brethren from the night before. 
There was a pretty good crowd (maybe 50? people) when the band started up.  Too bad these guys weren’t around during the heyday of Frederick’s Music Lounge…they’re all about the 2-guitar (plus steel!) good-time roots-rock; their particular brand owing to their NW Arkansas/SW Missouri roots.  They opened with “Tom Ames’ Prayer”, drawing the audience in with this classic Steve Earle story/song.  These guys feature three different singers (and songwriters) so the sound was varied, song-to-song. Ben Wardlaw sang most often and has a more alt-country feel to what he does.  Brad Helms has more of a classic country delivery, every bit as character-rich and convincing as anything you’d hear on the radio.  Bassist Stacy Liles sang a couple, as well. 
To the best of my sketchy memory, songs included “Gone To Stay” (this one features a distinctive, southern blues-rock slide riff), “GTO” (an up-tempo, twangy ode to old muscle cars), “Things Stay The Same” (a smooth classic-sounding ballad sung by Brad), “Hippie Song” (more Brad), “Come On” (with some sweet steel fills), “Roll My Smoke” (a loose, bluesy groove song about smoking weed), Dwight’s “Hit The Throttle”, “Give Back The Key To My Heart” (done up faster than Doug Sahm’s original) and a full-band version of the song Ben sang last night…something like “While Tweedy’s out in the big city drinking, I’m all alone with a broken heart”. 
Cody Russell’s steel guitar was more often along the lines of that searing blues-rock slide guitar, as opposed to the delicate, dreamy kind.  Our host, Dave Melson got up and played bass on a particularly lively song while brother Walt, beer in hand, enthusiastically hopped around up front. The overall vibe, including the whole Ozarks/friends/family connection gave a real informal back porch/campfire feel to the proceedings.  I’m never any good at predicting who’s gonna make it big in this particular musical sub-genre, but at times like this, that’s not really the point.  Good music, good friends, good times. 
Keeping with the wedding weekend analogy, the ceremony ended and the party/reception began.  Walt (the man responsible for hooking his friends’ band up with his sister’s venue) conked out almost immediately, but a bunch of us were in for the long haul.  There was plenty of beer, but no liquor, so Dave (the drummer) and I made the late-night liquor store run.  I had a great time hanging with my friends, old and new, until around 4AM.




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