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Author: Subject: James McMurtry and Chuck Prophet shows

Peach Head





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  posted on 6/8/2008 at 10:21 AM
Here's something I posted on another site I frequent...might be of interest to some here. Ok, here’s the lowdown of the two shows.
My wife Terry and I drove down to the Birchmere (D.C.) Friday night for the James McMurtry show. (we live in southeast PA) Took us 2.5 hours…traffic not too bad, no bad slowdowns, stayed off the beltway and didn’t make any wrong turns. For those not familiar with the Birchmere, it’s 2 venues…a bandstand area with a large open dance floor, and a seated area…large rectangle with terraced levels so all seats are pretty damn good sightwise…good sound too!! Doors open at 6…box office opens at 5. Most all tix are will call (unless you buy at the box office in person), and when you pickup your tickets, you get a number from one of those deli number machines. At 6pm, a guy starts calling the numbers, and you get to enter the venue by lowest number (the first to pickup their tickets). Roam around and find the seats/table you like. This way, you have the place over 75% filled by 6:30…show is 7:30…and almost EVERYONE was ordering something to eat (no minimum). Food was excellent…about 6 appetizers, sandwiches, full dinners, salads, desserts. T&I sat with 2 ladies who lived a mile away…so they were regulars. We learned that most of the servers/staff had been there for years (treated and paid well) and the service was GREAT. Most all dinner serving had ended well before the headliner. We, of course, got into a discussion of WCL and how they seem to **** up their food service. Both women couldn’t believe why WCL didn’t check out how the Birchmere did it!!!
Seats were great…just left of center, about 15 feet from the stage. Justin Towens Earle opened. I was excited for this one, since I had to miss him at the Felice Brothers show recently. Absolutely GREAT set…the kid came out with hair slicked back greraser style, and his set was vintage 30’s-50’s…stuff you could here al the radio in the mountains during that era, but all originals. He kind of stalked around half bent over, like Groucho…or more like John Hiatt does sometimes…holding his guitar up high. Acted like a carny sideshow barker between songs…”Thank you ladies and gentlemen…and next is a song I wrote when I was 16…you can see how **** ed up I was.” Side man, Cory ?? did stints on mandolin, banjo, and harmonicas, while backing up vocals. He had a great voice…so powerful that he consistently stood back a full foot from the mic. They also clowned around a bit..after a furious harp solo, Cory bent over, hands on knees, and panted. They both, and Justin in particular, played for the crowd, to the crown, and with the crowd, and it came off as a fun, energetic and entertaining set. Cd is very good if you like Americana stuff, but the live act is the thing to catch. He said he’d be back in Philly soon.
McMurtry came out with a bass and drummer…did a few new ones (Turtle Bayou opened), and was right into that swamp stomp rock. Started right out with some great guitar solos too. After about 6 tunes, the band left and he picked up an acoustic…people started yelling requests. He said “Some of you know what you want to hear…but none of you know what you’re going to hear. Me and David Bromberg have this in common…the only power we have is up here on stage, and if you thing I’m gonna give up one second of it…” And that was about the extent of his audience interaction. 2 solo acoustuic songs, then the band came back out with Tim Holt on guitar too. Then it picked up considerably. Just us Kids, Can’t make it here anymore got extended middles. Before Chocktaw Bingo, he said to get up and dance because this song “ain’t high art or any **** like that”…and over half the place was up for that one. Second part of the set was A+…intense, hard driving **** with his and Tim’s guitars taking turns.
Ended a just less than 2 hour set…drove down to the corner for some coffee, and from there it took us 2 hours 5 minutes to home.

Phase 2:
After the Guerrina family reunion and being in the heat all day (and a lot of food) we went home to rest for a half hour before leaving for the Chuck Prophet show at the Gild Hall in Arden DE. Terry had had it..took a quick nap but she couldn’t rally. So I ended up going alone, a little late (got there half way through the opener…I didn’t miss much there), was able to see the extra ticket in 10 seconds, and went into the STEAMY barn. Yeah, it was pretty damn hot in there last night. At Prophet’s request, they had the front left quarter with no chairs for dancing (they tried something similar with Landreth last year,but the patrons almost revolted wanting their seats!!!...so this was again another “experiment”). I sat for the first Prophet song, but then got up on the floor near the stage. At least I could move around, and could waltz out the door and back all night.
Chuck and the band seemed a bit bewildered at first…he made some comments about this being a Utopian society and how that was great…but you could see they didn’t know what to expect. First part of the set was songs from Soap and Water…band was on, Chuck was singing great and letting loose on some guitar licks. Then everyone went off and he did 2 solo acoustic tunes…really GREAT. He seemed to really get into it, and the crowd really enjoyed them too, and when the band came back on, he ramped up the energy. By the middle of the next song, you could tell there was an added excitement with the band members. They did the “who put the bop” song and extebnded it maybe 13,14 minutes!!! Chuck took 4 solos, James 2, and then they were trading **** back and forth. At some times, James and the bass player would stand back and crack up…exchange smiles like “wow, this is new here!!”. Obviously Chuck was reaching for more and different stuff in every song now. The rest of the show was like that…extended, rocking **** …the dance floor was about full by now. Perfect!!!!
As they were ending up with the doubt Jesus song, they blew the main breaker on the sound…nothing. Chuck didn’t miss a beat, started to clap and sing and came out to the front of the stage. Crowd was into it and joined in as did the band. Did a minute of that, and then goodnight. Crowd kept up the chant and clapping while the sound guys tried to remedy the situation. After 5 minutes, Chuck and the band come back out. Still no juice, so he grabs his acoustic, steps right if front of us on the dance floor, and starts Summertime Thing. Stephanie and the drummer join with some rythmn instruments and backing vocals, but the crowd was singing along. Almost at the end the power comes back on…he runs to the mic, and within 4 bars the full band was on it too, and they entended it another 10 minutes full of Chuck and James solos…awesome.
One more lowkey encore and that was it for the night. A special set I think, maybe because of the interesting setting, maybe just because people were into it and hot…who knows. But the band sure did enjoy themselves and so did the crowd.
Got a cd signed and got to meet Prophet too…seemed very nice.
Ok, wild weekend…next up Sonny on Friday in Philly
Zeke

 
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World Class Peach



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  posted on 6/8/2008 at 11:15 AM
I go see McMurtry every time he comes to town. Great songwriter/performer. Great review, thanks!

 

____________________
"There's only two kinds of music...The Blues and Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah"- Townes Van Zandt

 

Extreme Peach



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  posted on 6/8/2008 at 11:43 AM
There's a nice McMurtry show from AMJAM up on bt.etree.org for any of you downloaders. It's a soundboard to boot. His new tune Ruby and Carlos is excellent. Also a soundboard of former Drive By Truckers Jason Isbell from AMJAM too. He played the set righr before James from what Brofan told me. I can't believe how time flys, but I've been following McMurtry since 1989, when he was touring Too Long In The Wasteland.
 
 


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