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Friday, July 5, 2013

NO. SLEEP. IN BROOKLYN... part two Wreck Your Life

Day two brought lots of sunshine and more heat to the five boroughs of Manhattan, and a way-too-early wake up call from my internal alarm. I was already at a sleep deficit having been up since 5am the day before. I didn't get to sleep until after 2am, but despite the curtained windows, my asshole body clock woke me at 7am, which is pure BS. I know. You feel really bad for me. Please hold your sarcasm until BINGO has been called.

After a little nosh at the hotel, I headed into Manhattan to meet up with Greg, from Dallas. His son, Collin wanted to check out NYU, so we buzzed around the Flatiron building, Union Square and eventually Washington Park.

Greg and I sitting in pub(l)ic art near Union Square

washington square arch
surprisingly no skaters selling "snoopies"

smart shit graffiti-the best kind

Collin's a sweet kid. His sixteenth birthday was coming up, so this trip with his Dad was his present. We had a nice time tooling around together, catching up. Greg is a lawyer with clients all over. It's uncanny how he can schedule meetings in the very cities the Old 97's are playing... ;-)

whistling boy

le sigh

Not wanting to squander the gift of a pool on a blistering day, I was Brooklyn and bathing suit bound. Cindy (from Pittsburgh) jumped in when she finally arrived later on. By that time, I had made pool friends and met a Pittsburgh ex-pat who grew up two miles from where we live now. She's lived in Arizona for 30 years, but happened to be visiting her son in Brooklyn. Burgher meet ups are a strange phenomena which occur all the time. We're everywhere.

oh hey, did you know we had a pool?

Human beings are funny. So we're all hanging out, in and around the pool. A lone, dark cloud perches overhead, and it starts to rain a bit. Half the people, who are wet already mind you, start freaking out and heading for cover. What the ef??!? WE ARE ALREADY WET!!! If you were made of sugar, you'd be melted by now. The other portion of folks left on deck... jumped in the pool. Again, what's that about? People. Are. Crazy.

Moving on...

Williamsburg is a really lovely section of Brooklyn. It's filled with little bistros, pubs and coffee shops. It's got a high hipster doofus factor, but not enough to detract from ones enjoyment. I felt safe walking around there even late into the night.

Cindy and I had the great pleasure of having dinner with Murry, the bass player at a charming sushi place on Bedford. We sat in the courtyard beneath an umbrella table and fruit-filled grape vines. The conversation spanned numerous topics, kids, gardening, demos for the new record coming up. I thought about recording his thoughts about their newest project to post on the 97's website, but didn't want to interrupt the flow and dampen the evening.

So, naturally as we get up to leave, it starts to rain. Fortunately, it wasn't raining that hard and was super warm. The drops felt refreshing. Besides, there was no pool to jump into. I still don't get that.

The cool thing about these road trips is at this point in the game, there's always someone I know. We chatted with the front-row gang (George, Maria, Tina, Denise). Philip stopped by to chat on his way backstage. Both he and Ken had brought their families with them. I was lucky enough to meet Philip's family unit the last day. The kids are beautiful and his wife is tiny and gorgeous despite having had two children. I kinda hate her a little. I kid. No, really. Kinda hate her.

too much hawt for the room

Anywho... Cindy, Tracey and I planted ourselves Murry side again near the end of the opener's tedious set. We had good luck the night before with a roomier corner and cooler air flow. Evening number two was dedicated to their second effort, Wreck Your Life. There are a number of personal favorites on this one, including my all-time favorite, Bel Air. I already have a fantastic video of the blue-eyed lovely giving me a smile during the intro so there was no need to record that one, but I was anxious to capture You Belong to My Heart and Old Familiar Steam... because I'm a ginormous nerd.

A song's whose rhythm is custom made for Mr. M's signature hip sway...

Gorgeous. I don't know how Rhett can hit that beautiful falsetto after all the rock and roll growling. I'm STILL hoarse after a week.

Tonight when they took the stage during Fat Bottomed Girls, the increased energy was palpable. They were charged up, putting an extra umph into every song. Rhett broke a couple strings and was extra fervent with his head bangs, pogo jumps and long notes. Ken grinded his guitars into the faces of those in the front row. Murry was extra bouncy, and Philip was crazy good with the backbeat. The very definition of "hard-charging." The four of them are so much fun to watch. Clearly they all had a great day with their family and friends. The audience was right there with them for the ride.

These four Texas gents were definitely having a blast on stage. There was lot of playfulness -- Ken teasing Murry and Philip not to screw up the intro to Por Favor, Rhett back-to-back with Murry yukking it up, Rhett drinking a tiny bottle of Jameson as if he were a giant.

Por Favor

The second part of the setlist was packed with GREAT stuff...Jagged, Busted Afternoon, No Baby I (where the title of this bloggity comes from. I know I have absolutely nothing to do with its placement on the list, but I pretend he's playing it just for me), the ever-rockin' Smokers and Won't Be Home, finally unleashing the full-metal jacket on the master set closer, Four Leaf Clover.

The show was riveting! High on the list of best concerts. Even Mike, their tour manager, was stoked about their performance and he's seen a zillion outings. People wonder why I go to so many 97's shows. They are amazing musicians, with enormous showmanship and boundless energy. They never EVER call it in, and it's never the same show twice.

Oh yeah, Rhett's long-time school friend, Robert Jenkins was present, and got a big shout out during Big Brown Eyes (in which he is mentioned for non-fans). AND Craig Finn from The Hold Steady was standing directly behind us in the VIP section. Kinda cool, right?

The end alwaysAlwaysALWAYS comes far too soon for my liking, but we all were happy campers. Sweaty, tired and sore, but very happy campers nonetheless. Thankfully, this run wasn't over yet. To quote Scarlet O'Hara, "tomorrow is another day."

microphone photo bomb
one of these damn days i'll capture this properly

Wreck Your Life

The Other Shoe
You Belong to My Heart
Big Brown Eyes
Dressing Room Walls
Bel Air
My Sweet Blue-Eyed Darlin'
Old Familiar Steam
Over the Cliff
Goin', Goin', Gone
Crash On the Barrelhead
Melt Show
No baby I
Cryin' Drunk
Rollerskate Skinny
Busted Afternoon
Can't Get a Line
Every Night Is Friday Night
Won't Be Home
4 Leaf Clover 
Por Favor
Murder Or a Heart Attack ("you write one song about a kitty cat...")
Time Bomb

Again, more photos on flickr.

NO. SLEEP. IN BROOKLYN... saddling up for an Old 97's trifecta

mr. miller being stage gumby
good lord, i love this shot

Where to begin...

Okay, so months ago it was announced my favorite band of musical men were to play three consecutive nights at the Brooklyn Bowl, performing their first three albums in their entirety each night.

Yes, please!

I love these four wiry Texans with every fiber of my music-loving heart. They rocked, punked and blasted through three momentous nights. The powers that be have pinned them as Alt-Country. Alt-Country, my ass! Yeah, maybe Alt-Country hopped up on steroids, Red Bull and whiskey. They shred that moniker every night they grace the stage. Son Volt they ain't, and I thank the Baby Jesus for that.

old 97's do not go quietly into the night

Phone calls were made, arrangements were set, time dragged on. Then, much like a wedding, the event came and whizzed by like a speeding bullet. Although to be honest, enough was packed into each day that 24 hours felt like 48.

Besides standing front row having my hair blown back from the shear power of their rocking out, occasionally anointed by a spray of Rhett-sweat, my favorite thing about these road trips is congregating with friends from near and far. Along with the usual New York contingent, there were a few extras. Sheila and Melissa hopped on the train from DC with Steph, Cindy from Pittsburgh and Greg from Texas whom I haven't seen in three years was in "on business" with his son.

But by far the greatest serendipitous moment was our long-time friend, Myra. She's a former Graham dancer currently teaching at SMU. Every year she returns to New York for one week to teach at the Martha Graham school.  We haven't seen her since 2009. It just so happened THIS was the week she was back in the Apple.

at the fabo hotel pool
jesus, could my head be any fatter?

STILL a Texas beauty

After I tumbled out of the Megabus, (which was awesome, btw. clean, comfortable, no bat-shit-crazy Greyhound types aboard. except for the need to dole out ones fluid intake, everything was cool. there was a bathroom on board that seemed clean, but still...eww.) Myra and I met up at Union Square and headed to Brooklyn.

I stayed at a swanky new hotel, King and Grove of Williamsburg located a block from the venue. Beautiful! There was a rooftop lounge and a salt water POOL! In Brooklyn?!? Hellz yeah!

a lounge with a view

And you better believe I used that puppy as soon as we got there. The humidity was at about 1000%. For this comfort alone, it was worth the stay.

how is this even Brooklyn??!?

We had a terrific time catching up in the breezy shade, consuming fancy-ass food and fruity cocktails. Geo and I miss her.

Anywho, I got to spend some quality time dining, dancing and singing with Marcy, Sarah, Tracey and the lone fellow, Sarah's beau, Vinnie. It was so fun to be in the pit with Marcy, singing our heads off. Brooklyn Bowl is really cool. The bowling lanes are adjacent to the performance area. There's a six foot knee wall separating the dance pit from the lanes. So people are literally bowling while the show's going on. There's a limited seating restaurant in the front serving surprisingly tasty food and kickass frozen Margaritas from a slushy machine. Apparently, they are known for their fried chicken, but who's gonna bounce around with a stomach full of greasy poultry. That would NOT end well. But seriously, Dude...the Ritas, different story. Yum!

There was a different opening act each night, none of whom we listened to except the end of the third. Truth be told, I'd support banning openers at 97's shows altogether, because really, what's the point. They're just irritating. The lone exception was the Travoltas. Now THAT was a fun opening act. In any case, I'd selfishly prefer the band play longer, like.. oh, I don't know... three hours.

The first night's album was their premier, Hitchhike to Rhome, an album they performed start to finish only once upon its tenth anniversary. So many great originals surrounding the three covers. I'm always struck by Rhett's enormous skill for constructing such well-crafted, smart songs at such a tender age of 22. They hold up 20 years later. Such an enormous talent.

and he still looks like he's 30

We planted ourselves Murry side and anxiously waited to hear those gems rarely placed on the setlist. The guys took the stage to Queen's Fat Bottomed Girls, Rhett rocking the white pants, holding his beer up high to the crowd and launching into St. Ignatius. Their energy filled the room, enveloping the crowd as they charged through their first album, clearly enjoying themselves.

The final official cut is Ken's Polka Thing. It's a short accordion solo. The word had gone out on Twitter and Facebook for help procuring the instrument. Luckily they found one, and Ken strapped that puppy on. His disclaimer to being rusty, was unnecessary. He did great!

Rhett joked that unlike the CD, we wouldn't have to wait ten minutes for the secret cut, then busted into Tupelo County Jail.

"We're Old 97's, Motherfucker!"

Ha Ha! I love them.

The rest of the set was filled out with other rare favorites, Lonely Holiday, a smoky Let the Whiskey Take the Reins, the always bouncy Can't Get a Line, and a never-before-experienced-by-me Making Love With You.

Dancing with Tears in my Eyes

(you can watch all my videos from each night here)

And then Ken hit the first strain of Time Bomb, and the usual mixture of exhilaration and sadness struck as Rhett leapt from the amp. It's always bittersweet. They cut loose with every ounce of energy left in them, working themselves and the audience into a froth... and then it's over. Boo.

But wait! There were two more shows with no waiting. :)

Hitchhike to Rhome

St. Ignatius 
504 (she had me singing gooooospel...)
drowning in the days (doot-n-dada)
miss molly
dancing with tears
4 leaf clover
wish the worst (a scream-singing fave)
old 97's theme
doreen (pure rock-no banjo)
hand off
mama tried
stoned (won't you linger...)
if my heart was a car (badass)
desperate times 
ken's polka thing (go ken!)
tupelo county jail
west tx teardrops
lonely holiday
champaign, il
rollerskate skinny (natch)
let the whiskey take the reins (smoking hot)
can't get a line (always fun)
every night is friday night (head banging good)
big brown eyes (YEAH!)
making love with you
dance with me
time bomb
(sad panda face)

Okay, so I FINALLY took my Nikon to the show, minus the embarrassingly conspicuous Penis 200 zoom lens. Good thing I didn't bother to lug that hefty bad boy, because I would have had nothing but images of their nose hairs and orthodontia, and ain't nobody got time for that shit. ANYHOO, after the first night, a lot of the photos came out pretty well. Here's a link to my flickr page, if you are so inclined to peruse the plethora of pictures.