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  Rick Wood's Concert Diary - Vol. 74

Rick Wood's Concert Diary - Vol. 74

11/9/08 Calexico, The Duck Room.  This was one of those early Sunday night shows…sold out, but not painfully crowded. The Acorn (b, g & 2 drums) opened.  Very textural/dreamy/fluttery/droney instrumentation and vocals.  I liked the feel of it just fine, but the actual songs didn’t grab me.  The only song that I remember by name was “Glory”.  Ironically, I’m really liking the songs playing on their myspace page as I write this.
Lots of familiar faces in the crowd tonight…maybe too many.  I could have a fine time just talking to all the people I knew in the room or just taking in the music, but it’s all here at once.  Throw in a few beers, and it all became a bit of a blur; I wish I could have had a separate evening with each. 
Pretty soon, Calexico (b, d, g/steel, trumpet, horn/keys and Joey Burns on guitar and vocals)
came out and did what we’ve come to expect.  They laid on the dark, narcotic/hypnotic vibe with equally distant vocals.  The horns were in the Mariachi vein, save for a brief, muted Miles-like moment.  Having seen (and loved) this band a handful of times, I was a bit less wowed this time around.  It was as dark and evocative as ever, but didn’t move me quite as much this time.  Not sure what it says about the band (or me) when I say that my personal highlights were the covers:  Two by The Minutemen (the angular, herky-jerky “Jesus And Tequila” and the soaring and socialistic romp, “Corona”) and Arthur Lee’s always pleasing “Alone Again Or”.  This being one of those early, Sunday shows, things wound down by 11:30.
11/10/08 The Gourds, The Duck Room.  Fred and I arrived in time to hear most of the set by The Rum Drum Ramblers…this local three-piece (b, g, g/v/drum) do a cool electric blues thing.  The guitar player stomped on a tambourine while playing.
After the usual mingle/catch-up session in the fairly full room, The Gourds came out and did a set fairly similar to the last couple of times they’ve play in town, but in terms of set list and general delivery.  Scattered songs I remember: “Lower 48”, “Ants On The Melon” (both giving Kevin a chance to lay on the wild arm-waving), “Hellhounds” (always reminds me of “Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown”), “Jesus Christ” (Max on the righteous vocals), “Take Me Back To Tulsa” (an upbeat romp through this Bob Wills classic) and “Waxie’s Dargle” (this Pogues song always makes me wanna do that  elbow swinging/beer glass sloshing dance).  My personal highlights were less obvious chestnuts like “Maria”, “Web Before You Walk In It”, “Plaid Coat” and “Magnolia”, all of which feature sublime melodies and rich (if not entirely decipherable) wordplay.
The encore was all about the covers: The Beatles “Don’t Pass Me By” (Jimmy on vocals), Chuck’s “The Promised Land” (Kevin) and their greatest hit- Snoop Dogg’s “Gin And Juice” (interspersed with a Motown medley).  Even though I was only a couple of miles from home, driving Fred back down to south city (and the obligatory one last beer) made for a late Monday night.
11/14/08 Steve Wynn And The Miracle Three, House Concert.  Tonight’s get-together was a surprise (50th) birthday party for my buddy John Wendland.  Marie (John’s wife) hired the band and took care of inviting the guests (many from out of town).  We set it up so that John and Marie were gonna pick me up to go out to dinner...but when they showed up, there were about 60 of John's friends here...SURPRISE!  We all had a great time hanging out, drinking beer and catching up.
Surprise number two came an hour later when Steve Wynn And The Miracle Three (one of John’s favorite bands) showed up.  As a way of involving the audience, the band asked everyone to write song requests on small pieces of paper that were collected in a bucket that was placed on the “stage”.  The band started playing a bit after nine (late, by house concert standards).  Marie stepped up to the mic to give a few shout-outs before introducing the band…they opened with a few of Steve’s originals “That’s What You Always Say” stood out, as did “Bruises”.  Here's what it looked like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKw8sjZN-u8
After impressing everyone with a few originals, they upped the degree of difficulty by drawing from the bucket of paper slips…the first couple of song suggestions were nailed in fine fashion: “Shake Some Action” and “Ambassador Of Soul” (these are songs they actually know and perform with some regularity).  The first suggestion that required some winging it was my request for “Winterlong”; they did OK, but weren’t able to render it with all of the crisp stops/turns/changes that Crazy Horse put into it. Things got even sillier with attempts at “Huang Chung” (sung by Jason) and “Summertime Blues”. 
Before things got totally out of hand, the band reeled things in with a couple more originals… “Sustain” (this one reminds me of Dinosaur Jr.) and “Death Valley Rain” (their signature exhilarating dual guitar interplay song).  By now, Steve was soaked in sweat as things were running louder and later than they typically do at our house concerts.  Somewhere in there, someone opened a window in the kitchen, sending the music blasting out into the neighborhood.  I closed it as soon as I noticed it, but from then on, I was a bit nervous about the neighbors complaining.
The home stretch consisted of more silliness- “Slow Ride” (the band’s request) and “Whole Lotta Rosie” (Jason provided a few chords and one high-pitched verse before SW took over with a whole ‘nother  tune). “Halloween” was done up in all of it’s soaring, exhilarating glory.  At around eleven, I had to lay on the bad news that they had to wrap it up…they closed things out with “Harvey Haddix”, a quieter one from The Baseball Project CD.
The party continued for about another hour, before John and Marie led the last remaining guests back over to their place.  The late-night crew at our place was me and my buddy, Dave and the band.  Somehow, we ended up in an impromptu juggling seminar, me and Linda teaching Jason and Dave the basic three-ball pattern.  We eventually called it quits around 2AM.
11/15/08 Steve Wynn And The Miracle Three, Euclid Records.  The household woke up in shifts this morning…Nancy and the kids a bit before me and the band a bit later.  After breakfast, Nancy took Ray to his soccer game while I played tour guide, taking the band to The City Museum.  Working in the same building as the museum, I tend to take it for granted, so it was great for me to accompany these newcomers and get caught up in their enthusiasm.  We were all having a great time, but had to cut things short in time to grab a quick lunch before getting over to the record store.
A good crowd assembled as the band sound-checked with something that sounded like that period when The Beatles experimented with (among other things) eastern musical influences.  They then launched into a twenty minute set that included “Bruises” and “John Coltrane Stereo Blues”.  The latter showcased that intense Jason/Steve guitar interplay.  I think a recording of this will end up being released by Euclid Records as a single…look for it on their website.
From there, Steve and band headed over to Off Broadway while I caught a ride with the Twangfest crew to Ted Drewes and eventually home.
11/15/08 Steve Wynn And The Miracle Three, Off Broadway.  A good size crowd showed up tonight…I’m guessing as many were on hand to see the first appearance by The Love Experts since frontman Steve Carosello’s heart surgery 18 (?) months ago.  Steve was notably moved by the occasion, the crowd and the setting, in general.  His between-song talk was longer and more pointed than I’ve ever witnessed.  He introduced a new song whose lyrics were contributed by Phil Judd (early Split Enz)…to the best of my memory (I’m once again, way behind in these write-ups) it had an eastern/other-worldly feel to it.  It seems like there were other new songs as well.  It was also good to hear tried-and-true LE favorites “Cuba Street” and “Your Shining Hour”.  As many times before, they closed things out with “Bright Red Carnation” the guitar interplay was as exhilarating, as always, but evolved into something more tonight.
The Love Experts were an ideal middle act (I totally missed Rough Shop opening) on tonight’s bill.  They brought in a good number of people, played a brand of two-guitar rock that complimented that of tonight’s headliners and saw to it that the dance floor was packed with enthusiastic people when Steve Wynn And The Miracle Three took the stage.  All of this happened about two months ago, so I’m relying as much on a few scribbled notes as much as I am my memory.  Song highlights included “That’s What You Always Say” and “Death Valley Rain”, Steve and Jason coming out onto the floor to play the latter as the guitar interplay whipped the crowd into a frenzy.  The one-song encore was another vehicle for more exhilarating soloing, the Dream Syndicate classic “Days Of Wine And Roses”.  I hung out for a good long while as the band loaded out and eventually followed me home.  I drove Dave and Jason to the airport shortly after breakfast the next day.  Steve and Linda hopped in the rented car and headed up to Chicago (on Route 66) closer to noon.




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