Show reports from 1999 

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Wacos, Dec. 31 1998
Skull Orchard: February 5th
SO: March 15th
Wacos:5/24/99 Hoboken NY Maxwells
Wacos: 5/29/99 Washington Black Cat
Oct 10th: Mekons Tribute Band
Oct. 21, The Haunted Hillbilly Hoedown
Sally Timms plus Freakwater
Tom Greenhalgh in Leeds
and many more in between.

Music review, Waco Brothers at Lounge Ax, Dec 31 1998
By Linda Ray
Special to the Tribune

Like some benign Beowulf lurching and yowling a welcome to the new year, the Waco Brothers wreaked havoc on the roadhouse New Year's Eve and left a sloppy wreck of humanity happily exhausted in its wake.

Few bands have more fun onstage than the Waco Brothers, and it's infectious. Succumbing to the energy of their punk genre-melange is a fair substitute for 7 a.m. TV aerobics, and Thursday's crowd at Lounge Ax may have awakened to whiplash from bobbing their party-hatted heads in time with such revelry.

As much fun as they are to watch, they are also intimidating. Imagine the thrust of an offensive line without discipline and grace, or a combat battalion assaulting a beachhead with guitar fire. From the band's opening song, the Bo Diddley beat-driven, "Out in the Light," the Lounge Ax monitors withstood countless surges of Wacos bursting toward the audience, and the stage survived the impact of a hundred pounding leaps.

The trademark Waco ruckus almost invariably delivers food for thought, though. The year ended with "Cowboy in Flames," the title track from the Waco's 1997 Bloodshot release. The song was inspired by speculation that TWA Flight 800 had been shot down by American missiles and casts the incident as a metaphor for the abuse of economic and military power.

Leading the midnight toast, lead Waco Jon Langford urged fans to "Kiss whoever's next to you," while the rest of the band encouraged interaction somewhat more scatological. When the response was not the bacchanal the band had hoped for, Langford chided, "What's this? The post-Lewinski puritan age? Come on! Make out!"

Langford then announced "the first song ever written in 1999," and when played at full volume to a turbocharged beat, it was a remarkably cohesive ensemble improvisation that was summed up best by Langford: "It wasn't necessarily very good, and it was mostly about (pedal-steel player) Mark Durante," the good- natured butt of endless teasing by his Brothers.

Lead guitarist Dean Schlabowski debuted a song from the band's forthcoming release, "Waco World," a blues hangover of up-against-the-wall injustice called "Red Brick Wall," it features the most aggressive bass line Alan Doughty has ever supplied the band.

By a quarter to 1999 in Los Angeles, mandolinist Tracy Dear had toyed with crowd-surfing, Langford had ripped opened the snap buttons on his cowboy shirt with savage glee and the band was bellowing its peerless, rafter-threatening cover of the Who's "Baba O Reilly" to banish the ghosts of the passing year.

February 5th (evening): Jon Langford & The Skull Orchard play The Cassidy Theatre at the Chicago Cultural Centre with Sally Timms And Her Plucked Mallards

Halfway through the Skull Orchard set I realized I had been taken in by another Birmingham/Black Sabbath hoax. 
Friday night's Sally Timms/Skull Orchard show at the Cultural Center  was well worth the price of admission and more.  The show started with Sally, Jon, and Steve pounding out the first minute of a Black Sabbath song with Jon screeching the lyrics off mic. Steve left leaving Jon on guitar and Sally, and a rhythm machine.
Sally's set was the best I've seen of her live solo efforts.  Songs included: Sentimental Marching Song, Bomb, Old Flames...., etc.  The set was interspersed with Sabbath commentary, " this is the part where I would bite off the head of a chicken, I was going to but they wouldn't let me", and song snippets.  The set ended with "Iron Man",  Sally improvising lyrics.
The free show continued with a stripped down Skull Orchard consisting of Jon, Alan, and Steve.  They played the entire S.O. album, not in order, then Delilah and one other song for encores(20th century boy?t-REX?).  A great show all round.  Great music, much humor, beatiful venue, all at a reasonable price.  No beer though.

And a little addition from Tom Mohr:

> Sally's set was the best I've seen of her live solo efforts.

Agreed -- Sally was in fine voice, the best I've heard her
in a long time. She's also looking a bit thinner.

> Songs included:
> Sentimental Marching Song, Bomb, Old Flames...., etc. The set was
> interspersed with Sabbath commentary, " this is the part where I would bite
> off the head of a chicken, I was going to but they wouldn't let me", and song
> snippets. The set ended with "Iron Man", Sally improvising lyrics.

"Sentimental Marching Song" was quite good, as was the John Cale song (title escapes me), as was "Drunk By Noon".

Last song (thirty seconds' worth) was actually "Paranoid." They stumbled through thirty seconds of "War Pigs" to start the set, and thirty seconds of "Iron Man" somewhere in the middle.

Only minor criticism is that Jon sometimes plays a bit too loud when he accompanies Sally.

> The free show continued with a stripped down Skull Orchard consisting of Jon,
> Alan, and Steve. They played the entire S.O. album, not in order, then
> Delilah and one other song for encores(20th century boy?t-REX?). A great show
> all round. Great music, much humor, beatiful venue, all at a reasonable
> price. No beer though.

They were extremely and unexpectedly loud (the ad said "semi-acoustic"), sort of a Skull Orchard Power Trio. The theatre was pretty nice, aside from occasional sound problems and some uncomfortable seats.

Much humor -- when Jon asked the crowd about the sound, someone said "more bottom", which led to a series of jokes about Jon and Alan in bed.

I think the last song was T. Rex -- "20th century boy / wanna be your toy".

2/27 & 28:  Waco Brothers "Waco World" release party at Schubas

On February 27, Chicago's Waco Brothers held the first of two CD release parties at Schuba's Tavern to celebrate their latest effort Waco World on Bloodshot Records. At this Saturday night performance, the intimate venue was filled to the brim with both loyal devotees eagerly anticipating whatever the band would dish out and those folks just looking for a good party. Naturally, the group was happy to oblige both sets of fans.
The Waco Brothers led the festivities by taking a few moments between each song to pour down a variety of alcoholic beverages themselves. One can only imagine what would happen if they were to tour with the Rolling Stones. It certainly would be a night to remember, though it's doubtful anyone in either band would recall much of anything.
As is fitting for a CD release party, the Waco Brothers were determined to showcase the music from their latest disc. Waco World is bursting with songs that seamlessly combine classic country, rock, and punk, while embracing infectious, hook-laden melodies. It's certainly one of the best drinking albums to be released in a long time, making these songs the perfect complement to the evening's celebratory atmosphere. Not surprisingly, the band chose to perform all thirteen songs from the album, and these were, by far, the highlights of the concert.
While the album contains numerous subtle nuances and gestures, the live performances of these songs were vigorous, full-steam ahead powerhouses. Good for Me packed all the bile and rage that the band could muster, while Fire Down Below bounded over its edgy atmospheric groove with unabashed intensity. Likewise, the band plowed into Red Brick Wall with a vengeance. They channeled their fury into the churning anthem while simultaneously allowing the melody to flirt with a more graceful western swing groove, compliments of the deft steel guitar work of Mark Durante.
As the Waco Brothers tore through their nearly two-hour set, they improved with each selection that they performed. Every shot that they consumed seemed to bolster their confidence, providing further fuel for the group. The band turned each song into a shiny ball of pure energy, and at times the twin guitar attack of Jon Langford and Deano brought to mind the blazing intensity of Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
As the evening wore on, the Waco Brothers drew from an interminable wellspring of vim and vigor. The set concluded with the dual assault of Do You Think About Me and Plenty Tough Union Made. Both songs featured a high-octane blend of drums and bass that pushed the band to their limit, yet they miraculously managed to further increase the intensity level during their six-song encore.
In particular, bassist Alan Doughty became extremely animated, leaping and bounding back and forth across the stage and prompting the rest of the group to do the same. By the time the Waco Brothers blasted through a rousing rendition of White Lightning, which drew the show to its conclusion, the exhaustion finally began to show on the faces of both the band and their audience.
The Texas Rubies opened the show with mellow acoustic set. Try as they might, the country duo were unable to really capture the audience's attention and at times were virtually inaudible above the din of the sold-out crowd.

More shows without review
Waco Brothers tour:
2/19/99 Fri Lexington KY Lynagh's
2/20/99 Sat Newport KY Southgate House w/Stacey Earle
2/22:  Jon Langford's Skull Orchard, Andrew Bird and Diane Izzo at Metro
2/23:  RELS: Steve Earle and the Del McDoury Band, Waco Brothers, and others
2/24:  Waco World listening party at Delilah's

Jon Langford/Skull Orchard @March 15 at Maxwell's

Just the facts:
The stripped down Jon Langford/Skull Orchard power trio played the infamous Maxwell's, in infamous Hoboken NJ, Steve Goulding on drum (literally 1 snare drum and one cymbal) and Alan Doughty on an occassionally plugged-in and occassionally strapped-on bass

The show was accompanied by jon langfords painting from the Death of Country Music exhibit, with Bob Wills, Ernest Tubbs, Johnny Cash, and Hank Williams signing their souls over to the Nashville overlords.

The songs followed the Death of CM theme, mixing songs from the gravestone EP, Skull Orchard and Waco Brothers, adding in a Tom Jones cover ("delilah") and finishing with "Green River".  Jon Langford played thru a 12 inch by 14 inch mini-amp and squeezed every last sound thru it. Steve Goulding beat the hell out of his tiny drums. Alan Doughty frantically replugged his bass after it disconnected during the "baton rouge" verse of "big river", and when he plunged back in on cue, the crowd cheered like he scored a goal in the world cup
?partial set list:
nashville radio
death of country music
tubby brotheres
tom jones levitation
pill sailor
Down the trap door
see willy fly by
i'm stopping this train
encore:  green river

sadly missing: verdun
Dan O'Connell

3/19/99 Fri Austin TX Yard Dog Bloodshot SXSW BBQ
3/20/99 Sat Austin TX Jazz Bon Temps SXSW showcase

From a report given to postcard by dan b.:

     Friday; Bloodshot Party, 3-6ish.  Couldn't believe this party was set up as cool as I'd heard it always was; just in back of a folk-art gallery, beer everywhere (even tho I was too scared to start drinking that early ), etc. etc.  Missed Neko Case's set, very pissed at self.  Other Bloodshot acts sounded good, but nothing really starts til Wacos take stage.  Langford et. al. joke around for a bit, demand alcohol, joke some more...then.... All hell breaks loose.  Wacos are a band I'd always heard of but never seen. Riotous.
I mean I thought the Bottlerockets were the best bar band in America, and I probably still do....but I'd have to say it's up for grabs, even tho I think the 'rockets have better songs overall.  Great time tho.  Best quote; Wacos get Beatle Bob up on stage, Langford shouts "Sing a song you idiot!!!" Fantastic.  And Bill is right, the Lonesome Bob-Waco collaboration on "Do You Think About Me?" was searing...
  Waco Brothers:  What can I say?   They took no prisoners.  Sweat, screaming, craziness.  Speaker stacks were just waving back and forth.  There's very few dangerous bands left in this country but they Wacos are probably one of the few left.  One thing I really like about them is that being such a youngster , I basically missed all of the late 70's early 80's punk movement in this country.  Anyway, even tho Langford's a few years past his glory days as a vanguard for that movement, I find an awful lot of raw punk ethos intact in the Wacos, and I'm all for it (I don't know about the Mekons these days, never seen 'em).
Great Langford quotes; " I haven't seen this motley a crowd since that manhole on Halstead" (or something like that).
Also; "I wasn't wild about the politics but the uniforms were all right" (very sarcastic, re some Nazi parade he'd seen in the Chicago area, or something...someone help me out on those if you remember 'em better than I do).....(close to end here (;-))

       But about 2/3ds of the way into their set I was starting to feel massive pain in my lower back, hips, and eardrums from 3 days of so much standing and noise, and I had to leave my place of head-banging on the floor.
I actually found a great place that was much quieter  to watch the show behind the stage in Jazz Bon Temps and watched the end from there.  As the Wacos finished their final encore (Baba O'Riley ), Langford did some sort of Pete Townshend-type windmill and smashed his hand into a wooden eave or something above the stage.  I saw him yank it back in pain but couldn;t tell what sort of injury he'd suffered.  In yet one final act of cheesy rock fandom, I nonetheless tried to shake his had as he ran right by me after the final song in a blur of sweat.  Just as our hands almost met he yanked it back saying "not that one, mate", and high-fived me with his left hand.  As best I could see he had a pretty good amount of blood or serious bruising on the right hand as he headed in to the john.
        As came back out I told him to go see a bartender to get it dressed but he just shook it off and "aww, fuck it", and headed into the backstage. Amazing.

More shows without review
5/22/99 Sat Cleveland OH Grog Shop w/Sally Timms
5/23/99 Sun Buffalo NY Mohawk Place w/Sally Timms
5/24/99 Mon Hoboken NY Maxwells w/Sally Timms

I saw them on Monday at Maxwell's in Hoboken. The guy playing slide was Jon Rauhouse from the Grievous Angels (Bloodshot Records). Sally's drunken set included:
Cry, Cry, Cry
Drunk By Noon
Tennessee Waltz
I Don't Want To Be The One To Say Goodbye (I'm not sure if this is the correct title. Is this a cover? Who did it originally? Sally must be applauded for her attempts to slightly yodel in this song.) Down from Dover
Old Flames Can't Hold A Candle To You
Seminole Wind

Glad to hear the Cambridge show was great. I've been hesitating about posting my opinions of the Hoboken show. The band was in fine form, they just couldn't get the small crowd (about 40 people) to do anything but stand and bob their heads. Jonny wore a Mohawk Place t-shirt from Buffalo's gig the night before. He asked if anyone was from Buffalo, and some boob yelled "Buffalo Sucks!"
Well, Deano and Jon smiled and said that Buffalo had a great crowd that rocked.
As Jon speculated, maybe most of the fans stayed home to watch the last Melrose Place.
My ears are ringing too. Jon plays his beat Strat with the tone switch set to the bridge pick up. Gets that searing, hot wire between the ears tone.
I forgot the pedal steel player's name also, but he's on loan from the Grievous Angels.
One the hell does Alan Doughty keep that hat on with all his thrashing?

Yeah, I was surprised how few people turned out for the Maxwell's gig. It was pouring rain all day in the NYC area, which might've kept some folks away .... and it really hasn't been long since the Wacos played there -- March, I think -- albeit not with Sally. Hope the Mercury Lounge fares better tonight.
I thought Sally's songs were wonderful, even though I got the impression she wasn't too happy with her performance. Said she'd had several White Russians before the show and they'd coated her throat. (Jon let that one pass without a comment, if you can believe it!) Her voice is just amazing, and she did some nice whistling on "Drunk by Noon" too! I only wish she would've done a couple more songs -- maybe "Long Black Veil" -- and maybe "Longing, Madness & Lust" while she had the whole band up there.
As for the Bros. themselves, they were tighter (not to say drunker!) than I've ever seen 'em, but for some reason the show never got into high gear for me. Could've just been a serious lack of food and sleep on my part, though. Can't remember if David or Bill mentioned it already, but no Tracy Dear this time around -- the official line was something about him working a tugboat and/or servicing sailors along the Chicago River. (Chicago River?!) Deano was especially witty, by the way -- said Tracy was "always good for a tug" and called the new steel-git guy "the Anti-Durante," among other things. Just think how funny he'd be if he were from Leeds....
See you at the Murky,

There are a number of bands vying for the title of My Favorite Live Band. The BoRox are up there; Giant Sand (but it's been forever since they toured here); Mike Watt ; on a good night Alejandro is up there too; the Gourds; Pavement ; and I could fill in the blanks with a bunch of other names too. But on any given night I think I'd take the Waco Bros over anyone. For the decidedly non-Springsteen-ish price of 8 bucks, I saw 'em tear up the place last night in Hoboken.
Neither Tracy Dear nor Mark Durante could make the tour so it was just the other 4 plus John from the Grievous Angels on steel. I can't say I missed 'em. They were, as always, out-of-control energy-wise, ungodly tight and fergodsakesSteveGouldingisthedrummersohowcanyougowrong? Langford is, for my money, the best frontperson in rock. He was funny as hell between songs, chattering away about whatever struck him at the time--when handed a Subway napkin to wipe the sweat off his forehead he started reading the nutritional content of Subway sandwiches that was printed on it and suddenly said, like the Welsh Homer Simpson, "Mmmmm, ham! We've decided all good things in this world can be spelled with three letters: ham..., ale!" Steel-player John commented before the show that riding in the Wacos van is like one neverending episode of Benny Hill....
The music was taken from all 4 albums, but particularly heavy on the new one and Cowboy in Flames. Alan was out of hand thrashing around to everything and Langford and Deano were no slouches in the energy department either. The whole "Clash does Cash" moniker was lived up to quite well. Highlights for me were: "Pigsville," which sounded like a punk band 20 years their junior, "Revolution Blues," "North Woods," "Plenty Tough Union Made," "Harm's Way," "Out in the Light," and "Do You Think About Me." If only they'd done "Baba O'Reilly"...maybe Thursday in Philly. I hear it's a killer version.
Oh, and Sally Timms was wonderful opening up. We got her, Jonboy on guitar and John on steel for most of the set, and then her and all of the Wacos for a "Seminole Wind" that was the perfect set closer for her.
Can't wait till Thurs night in Philly....
Steve Kirsch

5/25/99 Tue Cambridge Middle East w/Sally Timms
hoo-wee! my ears are still ringing from the show in cambridge last night. i missed most of tom leach; but he ended with a great hank williams cover. sally claimed that she wasn't really sally but rather a chimp clone. jonboy played guitar and i forget the name of the guy playing the slide. the wacos joined her onstage for 'seminole wind'. sally's set was lovely and the wacos were raucous. there was some drunken dancing in front of the stage and the wacos couldn't stop jumping around onstage. basically, they kicked ass!
ken Ostrander

More shows without review
5/26/99 Wed New York NY Mercury Lounge w/Sally Timms
5/27/99 Thu Philadelphia PA Pontiac w/Sally Timms
5/28/99 Fri Baltimore MA Fletchers w/Sally Timms

5/29/99 Sat Washington Black Cat w/Sally Timms
went to the waco's/sally show saturday at the black cat and had a rollicking great time, dancing more than i have in years. the crowd, sadly, wasnt exactly huge, the advantage of which being that i was able to stand pretty much directly in front of jon, behind one other person. this made it much easier to hear and understand his fucking hilarious diatribes between songs, my personal fave being the one regarding the movie Reds - kind of a stream of consciousness rip on hollywood leftists, the ludicrousness of Diane Keaton trudging across the snows of russia, etc etc. very funny. oh, and one other - at one point, a guy from the audience came up and gave Jon 2 beers that were obviously either bud or rolling rock or some other shitty yellow american beer. so Jon immediately launches into a long take on these "urine samples" he's been given, to such a point that the guy in the audience actually moved to take the beers back, apparently being a bit embarrassed, at which point Jon started making fun of his shirt or something. which only proves the lesson that, if youre gonna interact with Jon Langford onstage, you better be prepared for the biting sarcasm. he's gotta have the quickest wit of any performer ive seen. anyway, he did finally thank the guy for the beers and suggest that anyone else who wished to do the same would not be looked down upon in any way, which eventually led to a round of Bass Ales for the band (mmmmm).
sally was wonderful, despite her evident fatigue. she looked like she was ready to collapse at any moment, tho that mightve just been the pot she smoked prior to coming out. still, she is, to me at least, incapable of ever sounding bad and this was no exception. particular highlight was when Deano came out and they did a rousing Seminole Wind for a finale.
Blue Balls Deluxe were surprisingly good, though this description probably betrays my inherent suspicion of redneck-looking people than anything else. they were also very very LOUD, but seemed to quiet down a little and get more into a country-rock groove as the show went on.
then came the Waco's. steve was the first onstage, configuring his drum kit, then ambling off. then a few minutes later, everyone else was onstage, but steve was missing. this brought out Jon's acid tongue, as he gave Little Willie Goulding an extended, blisteringly funny intro that finally wrested him from wherever he'd gone. the band was in fine form, rocking intensely from the start. probably the one negative of the entire night is that it started kinda late, so that the Waco's actually were told to STOP playing around 2am. actually, they were told by the Black Cat guy that their next song would be the last. so they did a very long version of Union Made, interrupted by Sally's surprise reappearance for Wild and Blue, met with raucous applause by one and all, after which they went right back into Union Made, finally finishing about 2:10am.
an altogether memorable evening, as usual...
p.s. - did anyone see the baltimore show? if so, what kind of a crowd did they have? just curious.

thought i'd chime in with some thoughts of the dc show and baltimore....
hey all.
> went to the waco's/sally show saturday at the black cat and had a
> rollicking great time, dancing more than i have in years. the crowd,
> sadly, wasnt exactly huge, the advantage of which being that i was able to
> stand pretty much directly in front of jon, behind one other person.
that might have been me or my friends bruce. we were right up against the stage, with deano and john shoving (and thats not a complaint) their guitars in my face on every song. the show,as josh has written so well, was a great one. the sound was much better than the fletcher's show in baltimore and the band was much more into the gig at the black cat. overall there were probably somewhere in the 75-80 people range in baltimore. it seemed more like 100 or slightly more at the black cat. the set was indeed longer, but that's only because, as josh stated, the band was asked to end things early. otherwise, i'm sure john and the band were up for more. as it was the sets were entirely the same both nights (as were sally's), with the exception of the encores played at fletchers. actually...thats not entirely true. at fletchers, i believe the last non-encore song was a blistering "do you think about me". i could be wrong. i'll check the set list at home tonight and post the entire contents.
i was glad to catch both nights, but, overall, the black cat show was much better, especially due to the lack of banter in baltimore. the band seemed so much more alive and into the gig on saturday.
> sally was wonderful, despite her evident fatigue. she looked like she was
> ready to collapse at any moment, tho that mightve just been the pot she
> smoked prior to coming out.

i'm positive it was the pot. as tired as she was, she still wandered around the club the rest of the night and came back onstage to dance and then sing for the plenty tough/wild and blue/plenty tough finale.
> Blue Balls Deluxe were surprisingly good, though this description probably
> betrays my inherent suspicion of redneck-looking people than anything else.
> they were also very very LOUD, but seemed to quiet down a little and get
> more into a country-rock groove as the show went on.

my feelings were...the lead singer/guitarist could really play the shit out of that guitar (cherry red gibson hollow body). he really impressed. but i just couldn't get past the redneck thing. i love country, but when they said they about to play a merle haggard song, i cringed thinking for certain it'd be okie from wisgokee (sp?). it wasn't. unfortunately it was "the fighting side of me". the man wrote so many great songs and they had to play one of his extreme redneck numbers. but it did fit their onstage persona, which is why i really wasn't so hot on them. i also could have done without the dancing women groupies strutting their wares all over the stage and the band during their last song. truly, i felt someone dropped me at a molly hatchett/skynrd gig. very scary.

> Blue Balls Deluxe were surprisingly good, though this description probably betrays my inherent suspicion of redneck-looking people than anything else.
And how do rednecks look?
>i love country,
No, you don't.
>but when they > said they about to play a merle haggard song, i cringed thinking for certain it'd be okie from wisgokee (sp?).
Muskogee, a nice town in Oklahoma. Good hunting and fishing nearby.
> it wasn't. unfortunately it was "the fighting side of me". the man wrote so many great songs and they had to play one of his extreme redneck numbers.
Great tune, as are most of Merle's. Extreme? So you have a problem with rednecks?
>i also could have done without the dancing women groupies strutting their wares all over the stage and the band during their last song.
Hot damn! Now we're getting somewhere. Please give details of the "strutting of the wares" so I can determine if this was appropriate or not.
Please stop offending rednecks, Merle, and me at once. Shee-it! This group is showing signs of life!!

And how do rednecks look?
clean cut, close shaven, the occasional three piece suit, generally choking back a martini or two.
>i love country,
No, you don't.
well thanks for letting me know. for some reason i thought i did have an appreciation for country music. funny, though, i wasn't aware that one had to appreciate every aspect of a genre to truly enjoy the music.
>but when they > said they about to play a merle haggard song, i cringed thinking for certain it'd be okie from wisgokee (sp?).
Muskogee, a nice town in Oklahoma.
you're right, my error.
> it wasn't. unfortunately it was "the fighting side of me". the man wrote so many great songs and they had to play one of his extreme redneck numbers.
Great tune, as are most of Merle's.
i agree that most of his songs are great, but i prefer his early stuff up through the late 60's. to my taste, i think there was a serious drop off in the 70's.
Extreme? So you have a problem with rednecks?
no, just with people who become excessively hostile or close minded when drunk -- which isn't restricted to rednecks.
>i also could have done without the dancing women groupies strutting their wares all over the stage and the band during their last song.
Hot damn! Now we're getting somewhere. Please give details of the "strutting of the wares" so I can determine if this was appropriate or not.
nothing too showy -- just the bumping and grinding of hips to the audience, tag team grinding of various band members, really acting the part of rock star groupies. they were annoying, especially, as josh noted, they were pushing people out of their way earlier in evening to set up their camera equipment.
one other highlight for the evening had to be when alan's bass strap broke. jonboy tried to to fix it to no avail. so, while the song (can't remember which) played on, alan didn't skip a beat, all the while changing his stance and banging away on the bass like a madman. it seemed to only make his playing more animated , which is hard to do when he jumps around as much as he usually does. and between songs, he then wrapped tape around the bass (making a temporary strap) and himself, winding it around his stomach four or five times and up over his shouldars and neck. the tape was everywhere.
oh...and when i asked about tracy in baltimore, they said he was back in chicago working some city job, that he was working out of some politician's pocket. deano then chimed in that he's always in someone's pockets. i can't remember what they said in dc. does anyone else?
lynn john lynn john
The Boston Globe
May 20, 1999, Thursday ,City Edition

BY: By Jim Sullivan

The Mekons are one of the post-punk era's long-running success stories, if your yardstick is artistic and not commercial success. The group - which still exists, albeit with members scattered about America and England - has also produced some fine offshoots. Two of those, the Waco Brothers, a quintet led by singer-guitarist Jon Langford; and singer Sally Timms (with backing quartet) play the Middle East Upstairs together on Tuesday.
How do the Wacos differ from Mekons? "It's not an art-school band," says Langford, from a Chicago studio, where he's at his day job as a painter (as in artist, not house). "The Wacos is basically a bar band, in the best possible sense of the word. A bar band provides entertainment on a Friday night: It can be noisy or whatever, essentially it's music for dancing.
"The Wacos are just a band that go and play anywhere; it's not something you had to be in on, to understand where it's coming from to enjoy it. With Mekons, there is a history and we sometimes feel like we have to represent it in a different way."
The Wacos call themselves "the hardest drinking band in insurgent country" - a rough, raw, and emotional country/rock that has less in common with today's mainstream country pop-schlock than with old school balladeers and honky tonkers. The band's been tagged "the Clash meets Cash" (as in Johnny).
"There's an edge to it," says Langford. "It's an attempt to get to grips with country music - Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash - as to why they're good and what's going on now isn't good. We're not trying to be reverent to the old masters, but update the way they work."
Timms is coming from a similar area. "I'd been doing half-country/half folkie-electro stuff, and I fancied a change," she says. "It seemed fun to play this out."
The Wacos have a spirited new album, "WacoWorld," and Timms is in the midst of making a disc with songs contributed by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Freedy Johnston, and the Handsome Family. On Tuesday, Langford, who shares writing and singing duties with Dean Schlabowski in the Wacos, will join Timms's group.
How has their attitude changed with the years?
"We were all fired up politically because of punk rock," Langford says of the early days. "We had big agendas and I still feel a thread going back to that."
"I rely on charm a lot, too much sometimes," says Timms of being onstage.Having Langford join her, Timms says, "is a little support for me. When we lapse into comedy and forget about music, which is what the Mekons headed to slowly, it's more like a circus." And if that's a problem, adds Timms, "sod 'em if they can't take a joke."
The Boston Globe
May 27, 1999, Thursday ,City Edition Hootin' and hollerin' time with the Waco Bros.

MUSIC REVIEW; WACO BROTHERS; With Sally Timms; At: Middle East Upstairs, Tuesday night
BY: By Jim Sullivan

CAMBRIDGE - Dean Schlabowski took the stage at the Middle East Upstairs Tuesday and promptly introduced his band: the Backstreet Boys. Before his group played, singer Sally Timms took the stage for her set and introduced herself as "the tuba player - Sally couldn't make it."
Just a little good-natured subterfuge to set up two eminently good-natured acts from Chicago by way of England. (Both acts are actually offshoots of the Mekons: Simms sings for them and singer-guitarist Jon Langford and drummer Steve Goulding are longtime anchors.)
For Timms, that nature comes across in her sad, sweet voice - the empathy she has for her characters, the way she shuts her eyes and sways to the pedal steel guitar or electric guitar when she's not singing. For the Backstreet Boys - better known as the Waco Brothers - it's obvious from the first clanging guitar riff, the first in-unison leg kick from the frontmen - singer-guitarists Schlabowksi and Langford and bassist Alan Doughty - that this is going to be hootin' and hollerin' time. They're all jerking and bucking like Joe Strummer of the Clash.
You want to call the Waco Brothers the runaway train of rock 'n' roll and hard country music, but the term implies that no one's got his hand on the throttle. These guys know where this express is headed: to the special pleasure zone that a smart, veteran bar-band can get to. There are angular guitar lines and chugging rhythms. There's this thought in the opening rocker, "Pigsville": "You did something evil/But the memory is fuzzy/Did you wake up on the carpet, honey?" Shortly, comes this wonderful, celebratory song called "The Death of Country Music" - cut from the cloth of the Clash's "Rudy Can't Fail" - where all harmonize gleefully about "picking the flesh off the bones!" They snatched a T. Rex guitar lick for "Fire Down Below." They plucked out a Bo Diddley beat for "Out in the Night." Their "train" song, "Train Back in Time," had a nice twist, returning to the station, not leaving. They sang, "Tomorrow's gone forever." As to that ol' time religion, let's just say the Waco Brothers shun the idea of leading a pious life, sitting around waiting for Judgment Day.
Essentially, the Waco Brothers are a rock 'n' roll band with country infusions - these come through in the lyrics (devils and preachers and lies and betrayal) and in the pedal steel, played Tuesday by guest John Rauhouse. There was also a little dab of Mekon-esque socialism, with Langford introducing "The Hand That Throws the Bottle Down" as a song "about social vandalism and rich bastards." They sang: "I had long suspected that we'd better be prepared/To give up on the notion that someone really cared . . . There goes the winner, but the race was rigged/Feel like a loser? Well, the fight was fixed." The Waco Brothers are proud to be that kind of loser and they make you proud to be part of that club as well.
Timms's set - she was joined by Langford and Rauhouse - was affecting on a small scale, but a little too low-key and down-tempo. Some folks responded by talking through it, prompting Timms to say, "For those of you having a loud conversation . . . if you're going to talk I prefer you shout insults at me. Audience participation." Offstage, she said, "I just did it to be a bitch. If it was good enough, they wouldn't talk. They don't talk through Elliott Smith. I'll just have to get better."

More shows without review
9/8: Kelly Hogan and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts at The Hideout Sept.: Down on the farm / Oslo, Norway: Jon Langford plus exhibition RICO BELL: Thursday 9th Sept, LEEDS: Rico Bell and the Snake Handlers CD release show party, At, Brudenell Social Club
Friday 10th Sept.LONDON at: The 12 Bar Club
SUN. SEPT. 26th The Make out Rooms, San Francisco, Cal, USA
FRI. OCT. 1st Seattle, Washington State, USA Venue to be announced
SAT. OCT. 2nd NXNW, Bloodshot Showcase, Portland, Oregon, USA

9/17/99: Sally Timms and Jon Langford are on the bill at Mercury Lounge.
9/18/99: The Bloodshot BBQ at Brownies
with the Waco Brothers, Sally Timms, Trailer Bride and Rex Hobert.

Oct. 21, 22, & 23 at The 31st Street Pub in Pittsburgh, Pa.: The Haunted Hillbilly Hoedown Bands: Jon Langford, with an art exhibition, showing the works of Jon Langford

October 10th: Mekons Tribute band opens for Johnny Dowd at Schuba's in Chicago


Caught a pretty cool cover band last night at Shuba's opening for Johnny Dowd...
They were called Where Were U2, an Australian tribute to the Mekons.
A fat guy on guitar and vocals said he was the Sally Timms figure in the band because lots of men kept trying to pick him up and he always ended up sleeping with 2 or 3 of them that night.
At times they sounded remarkably like the Mekons and even covered material from Hen's Teeth like "The Ballad of Sally", and "Fancy" which the Mekons themselves don't even play.
They must of not been able to find a female bass player to fill in for Sarah because a guy (I believe from the Pulsars, but I could be wrong) was on bass. Obviously it was impossible to have anyone imitate the sounds Lu makes because there was no one playing the string things he plays.
On the whole the show was fun but short (60min).
Avery Lerner

This was one of the best 'kons sets I've caught (& there've been quite a few)--Jon's sense of sarcastic humor was firmly in place (with his tongue in his cheeks), the band was relaxed and wonderfully sloppy. The set (the list of which I deliberately forgot to make) included a whole bunch of stuff they don't usually know how to play.

The Where Were U2 show last night was a very memorable show indeed. It started as a low key night with it being Sunday and the Mekons being the opener, but they dug into the archives and played some nuggets that I haven't heard played live for the last few years or even longer. I remember "I'm Not Here," "Chopper Squad," and "Lost Highway" as being among the surprises. Lonesome Bob (announced as Crocodile Dundee by Jon) showed up and tore the house down with a great version of "Point of No Return."
As was mentioned, Langford came up with another entertaining shtick with the Australlian cover band theme. The mythical tribute band's reasons for liking the Mekons: they can't really play; they're lefties; and....they're drunk all the time.
Greg Kot was there taking notes, so perhaps tomorrow's Chicago Tribune will have a write-up.
That Johnny Dowd is one scarry dude.
Jim M.

Here's the remarkable set list from the Shuba's tribute show

(I'm Not Here) 1967
Gin Palace
Lost Highway
Chopper Squad
When Darkness Falls
After 6
The Letter
Now We Have the Bomb
The Ballad of Sally
Point of No Return.


By Greg Kot
Tribune Rock Critic
October 13, 1999
Johnny Dowd sings in a pinched twang, the kind of creepy drawl that sounds at home only in bus-station restrooms, all-night diners and David Lynch movies. "Be content with your life," the strange little voice warns, "it may not get any better."
Freakwater's Catherine Irwin has a twang, too, by way of Kentucky. Though her voice is deeper than Dowd's, it is equally haunted--the words wearing purple bruises as she squeezes them out through the side of her mouth. "Whiskey is not evil," she matter-of-factly declares, "when it's sitting on the shelf."
And then there's Sally Timms, who doesn't have a hint of hillbilly in her voice at all, because she's as dyspeptically British as anyone can be. But her pure, plush alto conveys the most impure impulses every bit as persuasively as do Irwin and Dowd. Even when she's doing something as seemingly innocent as plugging her new album, she makes it sound like an invitation to something far more sinister: "Meet me by the Dumpster on the south side of the building and I'll sell you my record."
Together, these performers presented an extraordinary weekend of music; Freakwater and Timms sharing the bill at the Athenaeum Theatre on Saturday, and Dowd headlining at Schubas on Sunday with Timms' longtime band, the Mekons. They were bound by a shared appreciation for the kind of songwriting seldom celebrated in the mainstream anymore: plain-spoken tales about complex emotions. Their music offers no easy bromides, no bumper-sticker choruses, only an uneasy ambiguity that is beautiful, harsh and strange, often all at once.
Dowd reinterpreted Hank Williams' "A Picture From Life's Other Side" as a disembodied carnival tune, then shifted into a fractured Beefheart-blues with a four-piece band. The arrangement was typical of a set that filtered the painful honesty of vintage country through cinematic avant-rock textures: the Cajun lounge swirl of "Worried Mind," the Brechtian dialogue and short-circuiting guitar of "God Created Woman." In "No Woman's Flesh But Hers," a character submerses himself in a prison of his own making, unable to live with himself after a tragic mistake, while the band emitted what sounded like one long continuous low moan. Kim Sherwood-Caso ferreted out the melodies in Dowd's claustrophobic night-stalker vignettes, but the thrushlike purity of her voice provided no comfort, just a pretty facade for "the devil's next of kin."
Dowd's sound confronted the chaos--the devastating sense of loss, loneliness and impotence--at the core of the earliest, rawest country and blues, without sounding like either. In the same way, Freakwater turned the plaintive beauty of Appalachian balladry into a gorgeous Gothic tapestry with a string section, keyboards and trap kit augmenting the two guitar-strumming singers. Whereas Irwin squinted as though releasing each word against her will, Janet Bean glowed as she raised her eyes and her high, searching voice to the ceiling. The contrasting tones were mesmerizing, as the two played off each other like sisters, joined in heart-break harmonies that on "Smoking Daddy" and "My History" suggested the conversational call-and-response of gospel rather than the more prim, pretty on-the-beat inflections of country.
The next night, Timms was on stage again, this time with the Mekons, taking the ghost of Hank Williams for a ride down the "Lost Highway" in a show that focused primarily on rarities from the band's 20-year history. Timms' supreme sarcasm was again in evidence on "The Bomb," a bit of Reagan-era commentary complete with semaphore hand movements: humor as the last refuge for those who know almost too much about how the world turns.

Oct. 21, 22, & 23 at The 31st Street Pub in Pittsburgh, Pa.: The Haunted Hillbilly Hoedown

We headed down to Pittsburgh from Minneapolis last weekend for the Haunted Hillbilly Hoedown at the 31st Street Pub. Mainly because we're big fans of the Bloodshot label/artists that were headlining the shows, and we really wanted to see Jon's solo show.
Friday night was definitely the highlight, with Angry Johnny and the Killbillies getting things started early with a fast and sloppy set. Later that night the Drive By Truckers put on a high energy set and impressed everyone there (including Jon, who had some kind words for them at the start of his set).
Jon was hanging around and downing a few cans of Fosters before his set and seemed to be in pretty good spirits. He took to the stage a little after midnight, just Jon and his electric guitar. He rolled through a fast paced continuous set of songs consisting of a little of everything. A few Waco's tunes, some Mekons, some solo stuff (ala. Skull Orchard) and some Cash and Haggard covers.
I'll make a half-assed attempt at a set list from memory, so if you were there and it's completely out of order or missing a few songs, sorry.

Home of the Blues
See Willy Fly By
Over the Cliff
Tubby Brothers
Sentimental Marching Song
Big River
Cocaine Blues
Millionaire (Note: He did it well)
Nashville Radio
Wreck on the highway
Okie from Muskogee


Bad Times are Comin' Round Again
To the Last Dead Cowboy
Dollar Dress

As I said, there were probably more...but I had polished off quite a few cans of Fosters myself by the nights end, and the memories are fuzzy at best.
Talking to Jon after the show, he mentioned that the Mekons were going to be doing a big show at next years South-By-Southwest in Austin, make plans now while the prices are still (somewhat) reasonable.
Next on our schedule is a drive down to Chicago for the Waco's shows in November, and hopefully a Rico or Sally show sometime before the years end, preferably somewhere nearby.
As always, don't forget to drink up and tip your bartenders.


MORE from p2:

Jon Langford had (IMO) a little trouble recapturing the moment after the Drive-By Truckers' coup. He played a lovely little solo set, but I would much rather have seen him with a band, considering the mood I was in. But he still gets my unending kudos for being*cool.* He threw in his lot with all of us freaks and was so much fun to hang out with. And I'm told he kicked ass on his art exhibit. (We tried to go, but got lost. )

Jon Langford's set was much quieter than I expected it to be, but I've never seen him solo. It's true that all the bands that came before kept building up the heat and energy. I wasn't quite prepared to come down yet. I was expecting something more like the Waco Brothers.

Jon Langford, who's personality gave this event an air of warmth and familiarity. I don't know if anyone else felt like Jon had been an old pal for years, but I was amazed by his humor and flair for commraderie.

I only have one problem with the whole weekend. After three days of exposure to him in my car, my fiancee has now developed a huge crush on Jon Langford. Totally understandable, of course (he is exactly as warm and affable in person as you'd imagine), but I may have to develop a Welsh accent to placate her around the house.

More shows without review
Sally Timms' tour dates for September/October
WED 9/22 CLEVELAND, OH The Grog Shop tentative*
THU 9/23 TORONTO, ON Horseshoe Tavern tentative*
FRI 9/24 MONTREAL, ON The Jailhouse tentative*
SAT 9/25 BOSTON, MA Middle East tentative*

SUN 9/26 NEW YORK, NY Bowery Ballroom
A review of Sally and Freakwater at Bowery Ballroom (9/99), from Village Voice:
Published October 6 - 12, 1999

Country Without Quotes
Hat Tricks
t was coincidence that I caught the Bill Monroe biopic High Lonesome the night before Freakwater came to Bowery Ballroom, and I have to ask, What is it about a country band in hats? Those Kentucky boys in sombreros. If the green hills of Appalachia were sunbaked like the Texas plains, they wouldn't be so green! Freakwater's Catherine Irwin knows how much better country music sounds in a hat, and had the sense to borrow one off Jim Krewson, guitarist for the opening Pine Barons. A fetching brown model with white stitching. They're aware of the absurdity of four Yankees gigging bluegrass around New York in hats ("Here's a song about growing up in a small town"— "How small was that town, Jennie?"), and duck skepticism by shedding fast and hard.
Sally Timms, sometime Mekon and second act, neglected her hat. She cradled a stuffed monkey and harped on the crowd's insufficient adulation, maybe the result of her putting on " 'the show,' in inverted commas," rather than a show. My Chicago Manual calls those things single quotation marks. Either way they sit funny around covers of "I'm a Dreaming Cowboy" and Dolly Parton's "From Dover," Timms's voice as pure and sure as k.d. lang doing Patsy, without the reverb.
Janet Beveridge Bean, who sings the girly parts, wore a white hat that matched her pantsuit. Bean's outfit suits Freakwater's move from old-time revival toward a modern (i.e., '70s) country sound. On the material from End Time (Thrill Jockey), the double guitars are louder, with a sharp pedal steel and a string section hinting at psychedelia. No single quotes: these two can put on a show just drinking bourbon and bullshitting, Irwin declaring, "Nothing funny about this one" and launching into some heartbreaking shitkicker about divorce and sin and aging and salvation and labor, with high lonesome harmonies that make you wonder if your stereo isn't shot to hell, or to heaven.
—David Krasnow

More shows without review
MON 9/27 PHILADELPHIA, PA Pontiac Grille tentative*
TUE 9/28 ARLINGTON, VA Iota tentative*
WED 9/29 BALTIMORE, MD Fletcher's tentative*
FRI 10/1 ASHEVILLE, NC Be Here Now tentative*
MON 10/4 day off
TUE 10/5 CHARLOTTE, NC Double Door tentative*
THU 10/7 NASHVILLE, TN 12th and Porter tentative*
FRI 10/8 LEXINGTON, KY Lynagh's tentative*
10/15 San Francisco, Great American Music Hall
*w/ Freakwater
sat oct 16 berkeley, ca starry plow
sun oct 17 san jose fuel
tue oct 19 eugene sam bond garage
wed oct 20 portland berbatis pan
thu oct 21 seattle crocodile cafe

Sally Timms: 10/28 Sally Timms at the Chicago Cultural Center, 1 p.m., FREE

Just took advantage of working downtown in the Sears Tower and went over to see Sally at the Chicago Cultural Center. It was a fairly standard performance to a fairly unusual audience made up mostly of senior citizens who probably visit the Center daily for the free entertainment. Sally was in fine voice and played a 40 minute set similar to the Freakwater Tour set sans any songs with possibly offensive language. She closed with a beautiful version of Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain. One very elderly lady came over to ask me Sally's last name. She said she'd heard her interviewed on the radio (don't know what station) and "though she very rarely comes downtown she definitely wouldn't miss hearing someone with such a beautiful voice."
(Avery Lerner)


It was a nice little show. From my notes (not all song titles exactly correct):
Dreaming Cowboy
Sad Milkman
Down From Dover
Cry Cry Cry ("I met Johnny Cash. He kissed me on the cheek. It was a great moment -- for him.")
Riding Horses
When Roses Bloom Again
I Don't Want To Be the One
Old Flames
Seminole Wind
Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain
It was kind of cool to see white-haired ladies tapping their toes to Sally's songs.
There was a guy in the front taping the show -- I think he's the guy who tapes like half the shows in Chicago...

Sally told me that she doesn't mind us trading her material but NO MONEY SHOULD CHANGE HANDS.

> > When Roses Bloom Again
> Not the Guthrie song?

Sally introduced it as a song that people thought was written by Woody Guthrie, but it turned out to be a traditional. And she said the music was by Jeff Tweedy...

It's on the Billy Bragg & Wilco/Guthrie doc _The Man in the Sand_ (Jeff Tweedy goes through 1.5 takes of it), and I'm hoping it will be on _Mermaid Avenue II_.

As I understand it "When the Roses Bloom Again" was recorded by Wilco/Bragg for the Mermaid Ave album because they thought the lyrics were by Woody. They then learned that the lyrics were not Woody's but were written by someone else (I'm not sure who) so they left the song off Mermaid Ave. and instead Jeff Tweedy's been playing it at his solo shows and Sally has been playing it as well.

More shows without review
Date Day City State Venue Notes
8/7/99 Sat Chicago IL Retro on Roscoe
9/23/99 Thu Nashville TN 12th and Porter
9/24/99 Fri Atlanta GA Star Bar
9/25/99 Sat Memphis TN Hi-tone
9/26/99 Sun Urbana IL Hi-dive

9/8: Kelly Hogan and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts at The Hideout

Sept.: Down on the farm / Oslo, Norway: Jon Langford plus exhibition

Oct. 21, 22, & 23 at The 31st Street Pub in Pittsburgh, Pa.: The Haunted Hillbilly Hoedown
Bands: Jon Langford, The Blacks, Trailer Bride, Drive By Truckers, Angry Johnny and the Killbillies, Hillbilly IDOL, Hogwaller Ramblers, Prospect Hill, Naked Omaha, Dirtball, Pittsburgh Natives: The Deliberate Strangers, The Polish Hillbillies, The Johnsons, and Ploughman's Lunch w/Jennifer Goree
with an art exhibition, showing the works of Jon Langford


Next date is December 3rd headlining at the Starry Plow, Berkley, California.
Then, Dec. 7th at The Mystic Theatre, Petalooma, Cal. opening for the Knitters.
there are some more UK dates in Dec. betwen 16th and 22nd but he's still awaiting 'last minute' confirmation.

10/15 San Francisco, Great American Music Hall
*w/ Freakwater
By Lee Gardner

Freakwater and Sally Timms

Freakwater and Sally Timms, Fletcher's, Sept. 29

It wasn't your ordinary country-music show. There was only one cowboy hat in the room. There were no headset mics or flashpots onstage. Then there were the two skinny young boys who spent most of the night swaying together, pawing each other, and smooching sloppily in front of the stage. I've never been to a country show where some of the audience could have been on E. But Freakwater and Sally Timms aren't your ordinary country acts.
Mekons chanteuse Timms opened with an informal set featuring a pair of acoustic pickers and a songbook borrowed from Johnny Cash (a flattened-out, waltz-time version of "Cry, Cry, Cry"), Chicago roots duo the Handsome Family, and Willie Nelson. Though her clipped tone (and a Hawkwind joke) gave away her British roots, Timms has a lovely, cool alto and a wry affection for C&W—she seems to appreciate it as a poetic sort of music rather than a lifestyle choice. She's not likely to end up at the Grand Ol' Opry, but she was grand.
When Freakwater took the stage, the cowboy-hat count doubled. While sweet-faced singer/songwriter/guitarist Catherine Irwin and the rest of the band wore their usual jeans, Irwin's cool-drink-of-water singer/songwriter/guitarist partner Janet Beveridge Bean sported a salmon-colored polyester pantsuit and a light gray Stetson-style lid. ("She looks like a Judd," my companion cracked.) Another guest Mekon, Steve Goulding, sat down behind a drum kit (a Freakwater first), and longtime sideman Dave Gay plugged in an electric bass in place of his usual doghouse variety. As Irwin bawled out "I've been good/ and I've been good for nothin'" and an honest-to-God band dropped into "Good for Nothing" from the new End Time (Thrill Jockey), it became clear that Freakwater rode into Baltimore on a horse of a different color.
Freakwater's early albums and tours relied on an intimate, acoustic presentation—the better to show off Irwin and Bean's literate, clear-eyed songwriting and gorgeous harmony singing. But this version of the band is much more Flying Burrito Brothers than Carter Family, which—while still miles from contemporary Nashville standard operating procedure—doesn't necessarily improve matters. Goulding and Gay added punchy dynamics to Irwin's wry ode to her pooch, "Dog Gone Wrong," and some serious honky-tonk stomp to new single "Hellbound." But like as not, Irwin and Bean tripped over the extra musicians, or vice versa, and the fuller sound stood in the way of the lyrics, which, more so than with any other rootsy act around, demand a clear hearing. (The new album suffers in a similar fashion: great songs, but you have to dig.) Still, Freakwater scored hits with tunes new (the codependency ballad "All Life Long") and old (the wonderful cigarette reverie "Smoking Daddy"), and Irwin and Bean's rich harmonies remain one of life's underrated pure musical pleasures. The skinny boys danced all the way to the end.
More shows without review
sat oct 16 berkeley, ca starry plow
sun oct 17 san jose fuel
tue oct 19 eugene sam bond garage
wed oct 20 portland berbatis pan
thu oct 21 seattle crocodile cafe
*10/28 Sally Timms at the Chicago Cultural Center, 1 p.m., FREE
*11/5: Sally Timms CD release party with Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire and Nora O'Connor at the Double Door


Date Day City State Venue Notes
8/7/99 Sat Chicago IL Retro on Roscoe
9/23/99 Thu Nashville TN 12th and Porter
9/24/99 Fri Atlanta GA Star Bar
9/25/99 Sat Memphis TN Hi-tone
9/26/99 Sun Urbana IL Hi-dive
*11/26: The Waco Brothers w/Anna Fermin's Trigger Gospel at Lounge Ax
*11/27: The Waco Brothers w/Anna Fermin's Trigger Gospel at FitzGeralds

Tom Greenhalgh: Leeds University, Dec 4th

event/performance 'mecity' part of a larger 'project sculpting a multi-faceted portrait of the city'
6.00pm sat 4th dec at the LMU [Leeds Metropolitan University] gallery ....
'a provisional and chaotic meditiation on thecity>real and the city>virtual in web>text>speech>mashupsound>liveanddead
brandy and christmas pudding wil be served'
with ken lite, fat bob & tommy

So I hop on a train bound for Edinburgh and end up in Leeds. Blame it on the weather.
Strangely enough, I'd planned to go to Leeds up to a few weeks ago, but then decided against it.
Leeds and what I saw there: It was sleeting and I was tired, so I didn't see much besides the City Art Gallery. I _did_ look for Charlie Cake Park per instructions, but didn't get very far on that one.
mecity: it was part of A Christmas Pudding for Henry, "a project sculpting a multi-faceted portrait of the city" -- and the larger project is still going on (until 18 December, for those of you curious). The website explains it:
Kevin Lycett, Tom Greenhalgh, and Robert Worby were all there... It featured sights (projections from a Powerbook, mostly Netscape) and sounds (electronica, other sounds -- some of the city? -- mixed together, and ending with a version of "come and have a go if you think you're hard enough"). The flyer advertised brandy and Christmas pudding, I think, but there was more (cognac? Merlot and Chardonnay certainly).
I'm not going to do it justice, but what I remember seeing: I think it started with an abstract, flashing html piece -- it reminded me of rain and cars. There was one of html pages with pictures (of the city) as backgrounds, and text narration in the foreground. There was another piece featuring repeating text (larger text in a table, smaller text below it) re: watching broken trees swirling by while in a bar. Somehow, that one caught my attention more than any of the others -- it was extremely hypnotic. There was an "ad" for a Fuck-U-Fuck-Me machine that hooks up to your computer (that one was hilarious), and a page of text ("advertising" sex sites) set against a black background. There was a Word doc consisting of 3(?) words, and also an Altavista search on the keyword "henry" in pictures.
There were a few technical difficulties during the show, but I was pretty hypnotized by the whole combination of sights and sounds.

Friday, Dec. 10, Maxwell's: Hoboken, NJ

Saturday, Dec. 11, Mercury Lounge: NYC

I managed to miss both the Sally/Wacos shows in NYC this weekend, but did catch Jon's solo gig (accompanied by Jon Rauhouse, if that still counts as solo) at the BAM Cafe on Thursday. It was fun to see Jonboy in a less eye-popping mode, strumming mostly Skull Orchard songs and covers while Jon R. played Hawaiian guitar and mandolin. He also did a good half-dozen new songs, mostly SO-ish stuff about Wales, several of which were just beautiful -- grist for this rumored new band, I hope?
I also caught Sally and the Wacos on Laura Cantrell's Radio Thrift Shop on WFMU on Saturday. That should be "Wacos" in quotes, I suppose -- it was just Jonboy, Deano, and the ubiquitous Mr. Rauhouse, doing stripped-down songs mostly off of WacoWorld -- I'm not a huge fan of that album, but they came off well as acoustic numbers.
Jonboy also griped a fair amount about the fact that WacoWorld's departure from early Wacos material -- what he called the "chinka-chinka-chinka- yeehah!" formula -- wasn't as well received as they'd have liked. "We've discovered our fans are conservative," he said, "so we're going back to chinka-chinka on the new record."

Jon Langford:
sat oct 30 chicago metro w/ diane izzo

sat oct 30 chicago metro w/ diane izzo

New Years Eve!
The Waco Brothers, Robbie Fulks Band & Anna Fermin's Trigger Gospel

"Robbie Fulks! I'm gonna kick your ass!" Jonboy screams toward the stage as he descends into the center of the crowd from a hole in Fitzgerald's ceiling just after 12 a.m. Central Standard Time on January 1, 2000. Robbie Fulks had just finished Auld Lang Syne and was making his way off stage when the impromptu curtain (a white bed sheet with various band names and signatures on it) flew up and the Wacos (minus Jon) took the stage and launched into an apocalyptic sounding instrumental to presage Jonboy's stunt.
In deciding among the possibilities of where to spend the last night of 1999, two choices in particular seemed attractive: Wilco/Steve Earle/Chris Mills at the Riveria or Waco Brothers/Robbie Fulks/Anna Fermin at Fitzgerald's. Both events were the same price (~$80); however, the price of admission to Waco Brothers included, a among other goodies, an Open Bar.
Arriving at Fitzgerald's just before doors open at 8 p.m. we notice that Fitzgerald's has a temporary tent set up outside the bar. Once inside, we find that the temporary tent is where the all we can eat Lalo's Mexican Buffet is. Before indulging in the all night long Mexican buffet, we go in search of the night's feature attraction: an open bar. We decide to test the limits of Fitzgerald's open bar: between the two of us, our first drink order:
2 shots of Jager
1 Tanqueray and Tonic
1 Long Island Ice Tea
2 "of the darkest beers you have that aren't that watered down, too cold Guinness"
All of which we are given without a flinch from the bartender. A handsome tip later we're off to secure a table and to stand in line at the Mexican buffet. All while we're eating, waitresses are taking and delivering drink orders as fast as we and everyone else can place them. Several plates of tamales, rice, kabobs and chips and salsa later, we kill the last of what drinks are left on our table and head back to the bar to make darn sure we get our eighty bucks worth.
The crowd at Fitzgerald's is a surprisingly homogeneous bunch: white males and females between 25 and 40 make up the lion's share of those in attendance. Overheard snippets of conversation among the single people make it clear that finding someone to share new year's 2K with would be about as difficult as falling off a horse: no one wants to go home alone tonight.
Standing at the bar ordering something like the 5th round of the evening I hear the loudest, most powerful female voice I've ever heard start to sing: I whip around half expecting to see Aretha Franklin on stage and instead find a five-foot-nothing woman who can't weigh over 100 pounds standing on stage singing. Anna Fermin and her Trigger Gospel are the first of three bands and they play like headliners. Fermin's Broadway caliber vocals are backed up by an excellent guitar player and a bass player who plays stand up bass like he's just smoked a bowl of crack. Fermin's set runs well past her allotted time and the crowd claps and stomps until she returns for an encore.
By now, the waitresses have moved in from the buffet tent and are walking around the dance floor taking and delivering drinks: it doesn't get any better than this. Wait, it does:
A brief changeover between bands and somewhere between 10:30 and 11:00 Robbie Fulks and his band storm the stage and begin ripping through fast honky tonk song after fast honky tonk song:
Goodbye Good Looking
Every Kind of Music But Country
Wedding of the Bugs
Call of the Wrecking Ball
You Shouldn't Have
Forgotten But Not Gone
Rock Bottom, Pop. 1
Mr. In-Between
Let's Kill Saturday Night
Sleepin' On the Job of Love
Little King
The Buck Starts Here
Busy Not Crying
Dirty Mouthed Flo
Turn of the Century
A 15 Minute History of 20th Century Country and Western
She Took A Lot of Pills and Died
I Told Her Lies

Fulks' set is high energy and gets the crowd dancing. Well, Fulks music AND the 3+ hours of an open bar and very efficient waitresses who take and deliver drink orders as though they have a portable bar with them.
The highlight of Fulks set is his "15 Minute History of 20th Century Country and Western." For this tribute to country music, Fulks has a woman holding placards (like in some bob dylan video) depicting some musical act from a bygone era (e.g., 1905 with a picture and a brief description of the music at that time) Wish I could remember all the pictures and words on those cards, but, fuck, I'm surprised I remember anything after, oh, 9 p.m. After the tribute, Fulks handed the cards out to various audience members.
During the 1920's (maybe it's the teens?), Fulks dons a black ski-mask (in lieu of black face-paint) and plays a tune in a style depicted in films of the era. For the 1980's, Fulks turns the stage over to someone I don't recognize and this other guy and Fulks' band play a complete, raucous version of Alabama's "Roll On." I'm thinking that the card for the1980's depicted the members of Alabama as black males and read: "1980's: Goofy Ass Shit."
When the 1990's roll around, we quickly find out why Fulks' left the stage during the 1980's: "Shania Robbie Twain Fulks" busts back onto stage in full drag looking like something from Rocky Horror: heels, fishnets, leopard bustier, long black gloves, a wig, and make up. And Robbie, er, Shania sings, no guitar, just Shania-esque gyrations and poses, "Man! I feel like a woman!" as a tribute to '90's country music.
Shania finishes with a few last blown kisses and then the curtain drops on her song. Fulks is joined on stage by a very pretty woman I presume to be his wife and she joins Robbie/Shania on vocals for a song. She even drew a little moustache and goatee on herself, in the evening's spirit of gender bending. Fulks returns having thrown a shirt and jeans over his shania gear and plays a few more songs leading up to midnight, including "Dancing Queen." Everyone counts down to midnight, drinks champagne and kisses anyone in their vicinity. Fulks plays a quick version of Auld Lang Syne (all the while the curtain is down) and then, before Fulks can get off the stage, the Waco Brothers knock the crowd back five steps with an overpowering instrumental, the crowd turns to the stage and then someone points to the center of the bar and there's a guy in a red jump suit descending from the ceiling...Jonboy has arrived.

Next thing I knew, I woke up, naked, sore all over and sweating, in my hotel room, clutching a copy of the Waco Brother's January 1, 2000 set list (it's like 50 degrees in Chicago on Jan 1--phew, for a moment, I though maybe the world had ended and I was in hell):
20th Century Boy
White Lightning
Baba O'Reilly
Too Sweet To Die
You Got Me Running
Red Brick Wall
Do What I Say
Harm's Way
See Willy
Do You Think About Me
Take Me To the Fires
Plenty Tuff
Out There Aways/Rev.Blues
Out in The Light/Cowboy in Flames
OOO Las Vegas/Wreck/Wanted Man
Big River/9LB Hammer/Folsom

I also vaguely recall :

Jonboy making "just one" prediction for the next century: "more trade unions."
Dancing. Not just me. Not just those up front. Everyone in the place couldn't help but dance to the Wacos. Two Indian girls (not Native American Indian, India Indian) jumping on stage and serving as go-go dancers for the Wacos. Finding it impossible to stand right at the front of the stage during the Wacos set: the band's on stage antics constantly spill over into the audience.
It's been over 2 days since the Wacos show and I'm still recovering. Not sure what they were talking about, but these words were inscribed on the Wacos' set list with which I woke up:
"Sorry!" Deano
"Sue! It's America!!" Alan Doughty
Maybe I can get a psychiatrist to recover the rest of my memories from that night. But first, I have to go see a chiropractor.
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