Archive for 2005

Man oh man

December 4, 2005

Man oh man. L-tryptophan is a beyotch, no? Between the turkey, trimmings, and the new job, your webmaster done nothing the past few weeks besides eat, sleep, and study, with no in between. Until today that is, when Ken Bethea was nice enough to suggest that I… uhm… get off my butt and get some tour dates posted! And he’s right. So, are you looking for some New Years festivities? Well here you go: The Old 97’s are blowing the lid off Austin’s La Zona Rosa on December 29th and then return to Dallas’ Gypsy Tea Room on December 30. Now what do you mean you’ve never caught the 97’s ’round the holidays? Go!

So how about the kids with their wacky technology these days, and every up and coming band with a blog on You think we’d miss out on that? Heck no. So Ken’s worked up the Old 97’s new MySpace site, which you’ll want to be sure to check for updates. Also, Rhett Miller even has his new MySpace spot up. Rhett, of all people. Getting that boy – a webaphobe if ever there were one – posting online must have taken the strength of a thousand A&R reps! Seriously, Rhett has a seriously cool holiday track up on his spot for your Yuletide listening pleasure, so be sure to check it out. And believe it or not (I’m a believer. Get it?) that track, along with the recent Rubber Soul tribute, The Believer, which drops on 2/28, are not even Rhett’s only new projects, as he let slip at a recent gig that he and his lovely bride Erica are expecting again. So kudos, congrats, and best wishes to the Millers!

Your Old 97’s feature article this month may be an older one, from June of 2004, but it’s new to me and a nifty interview with the 97’s aforementioned Mr. Bethea. Click here! Also, are you looking for a 97’s photo-fix? Well here’s a must see. It’s Lindsay Graham’s (of Flickr site. There are only a couple of reliably and certifiably great photographers of the 97’s in action, and Lindsay is one of them. And if you need some new Old 97’s product for that special someone this holiday season, why, we can point you in the right direction. The folks at the legendary First Avenue club up in Minneapolis have come up with an amazing Best Of CD, called The Bootlegs: Commemorating 35 Years at First Avenue. When I first saw, it I literally couldn’t believe this lineup. Seeing is believing, and you can bet I’m getting mine.

Oh and before you leave, don’t miss these three great new reviews of Alive & Wired The first concludes: “This is just about as good as a live album gets,” and I believe he nails it. While the folks at Prefix Mag take a more high-minded approach, and the twangbangers at, still think you ought to buy a ticket if you want a real, four-star 97’s listening experience. And they’re right too. All these reviews? They’re just gravy after one great record, but I like me some gravy. Uhm…. gravy. And we’re right back where we started ain’t we? Time to eat! Actually, it’s time to study.

So for now, check back soon for traffic and weather on the eights, and breaking news when it happens, all here at And in case we don’t see you again before the holidays, here’s wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, from the Old 97’s family to yours.

The the 97’s have a three city, five-gig, West Coast mini-tour lined up for November. Do you have your tickets yet? And certainly you’ve picked up Alive & Wired by now? If not, here’s what you’re missing.

At a recent solo show, Rhett let slip that his upcoming solo-album is titled The Believer, and that it’s due for a February, 2006 release. Long-time fans of Rhett and Ranchero Brothers live shows will recognize one of the songs on Rhett’s new album as a long-time classic-in-waiting, called “Firefly.” On The Believer, you’ll hear sung it as a duet with Rachel Yamagata. Oddly enough, criminally unknown (at least in these parts) San Francisco Americana-meisters, Firecracker, also cover “Firefly” as a duet on their new album So Long Someday, and knock it out of the park; while Ken Bethea offered up a crunchy solo for “(I’m Sorry) Caroline,” which is the track off that CD which has thus far garnered the most airplay. Check it out.

Call me greedy, but I’m always ready for more old 97’s stuff, and this year alone we’ve had and Old 97’s DVD, the two disc live CD, the Starbucks comp, and now, yet another chance to get some 97’s on disc. This time it’s the folks over at the 97’s old home, Bloodshot Records, who are about to birth a 42 song, two-disc anniversary set called, For A Decade of Sin: 11 Years of Bloodshot Records, to which the Old 97’s contribute a cover of Robbie Fulks’ “I’d Be Lonesome.” Some of you guys might have been able to pick of a limited-pressing of a Sons of Hermann Hall comp, last year, on which the Rancheros sang their version of the same. This time, it’s the whole band’s turn.

In addition, the folks down at ACL Fest have put together of the top-notch best-of that was rock & roll sauna of ACL Fest 2004, in a rollicking DVD, creatively titled, Austin City Limits Festival: Live 2004. Will it spoil the surprise if I say that the Old 97’s provided some of the highlights of the entire festival, and that their blazing take on “The New Kid” is one of the highlights of the DVD? And that festival organizers obviously agreed, which is why you can find the 97’s here among the likes of Franz Ferdinand, The Pixies, Cake, the Blind Boys of Alabama, and the aforementioned Rachel Yamagata.

And don’t forget that Rhett covers John Lennon’s “Girl” on the upcoming This Bird Has Flown: A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles’ Rubber Soul, due in stores on October 25. Even Pitchfork likes it, saying, “In a shocking turn of events, we are pleased to report yet another Beatles tribute album.”

Finally, it’s been kindly mentioned to me that some folks may not realize that we’ve always had a replacement for the old Hit By A Train/ guestbook. Just click on the Archive page, and leave your comments underneath the appropriate entry. We’d love to hear from you.

I know i know i know

October 8, 2005

I know, I know, I know. It’s been too long. Unfortunately, the airline bidness has been nasty to your webmaster the past couple of weeks – mainly his job went away, and he’s been out looking for another. That’s the reason this is showing up so late, but it’s especially for you SoCal folks, it’s something you don’t want to miss: a wonderful evening of music, providing relief from Burbank to the Bayou. Here’s Murry:

It’s a benefit for Katrina, Rita and a couple of home organizations that Grey and I are doing. Going to be a regular gig – a regular solo set, which is lighter on the Hank Williams gospel music, although it’s being put on at the church.

So, come out and enjoy the show, on Sunday, October 9, at 5pm PT at the First Christian Church of Burbank, and check back in again this evening as there’s more to come!
I would like to invite you to this upcoming benefit concert.  Grey Delisle is a beautiful singer, who won a Grammy this year in the traditional folk category.  Murry Hammond, her husband is a singer songwriter best known for his work with the Alt Country icons, the Old 97's.  They will be performing some great Americana music on this evening, before they head out for their European tour.  Admission is free, but we will ask for a donation.  All proceeds will be divided evenly between Hurricane Relief, Burbank Temporary Aid Center and the Nancy Painter Home for Mothers and Children.

Please, try and do something. Here are a just few ways you can help the hundreds of thousands of victims of Katrina:
(And if you have others, we’re happy to consider posting those too)

American Red Cross
1-800-HELP NOW (435-7669)

America’s Second Harvest

Catholic Charities, USA

Corporation for National and Community Service Disaster Relief Fund
(202) 606-6718

Feed the Children

Salvation Army
1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769)

United Jewish Communities

For more possibilities please visit the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD).

Howdy kids! You got your calendars out? Good, ’cause we need to mark up the month of September. First, at long last, and after what? …eleven or twelve years in the making, on September 20, the Old 97’s release their first live album, a double CD titled Old 97’s – Alive and Wired. How about this track listing?

Whadya think of THAT? I thought so. Says Ken Bethea:

We tracked 55 and I think we’re releasing 31. Of the remaining 24 most where duplicates just to make sure we got nice versions of “Timebomb”, etc. The only really good one we left off was “Victoria” but that’s because we didn’t get a great version and it’s on that sampler that came out with Satellite Rides

And how would you feel about maybe spending your Labor Day on in the hell-raising home of live country music in the Great State of Texas? Because on September 2 in Fort Worth, the Old 97’s make their debut performance on the stage of Texas biggest honky-tonk Billy Bob’s Texas. As an aside, during my years at Texas A&M the only good barroom brawl I ever managed to get involved in was between a bunch of fellow Aggies and some similarly inebriated students from TCU at Billy Bob’s back on one crisp September night in the 80’s. It was mainly just a bunch of puffed-out chests, name-calling, and a few wild punches and beer bottles sailing harmlessly through night air. Harmless, really. This rowdy trip to Billy Bobs promises to be a heck of a lot more fun and far less dangerous. Be there!

The very next day, September 3, the 97’s play outdoors in Nacogdoches, Texas at the Red River Radio Americana Music Festival. Then on September 4, The West Texas Teardrops, a.k.a. Ken, Murry, and Philip, play their sophomore gig at Dallas’ Barley House, on a double bill with I Love Math, which features members of the Deathray Davies, and our own Philip Peeples on drums. If you caught the show or read the reviews of The Teardrops’ first show, back at SXSW, you know you don’t want to miss this.

Rhett has also announced a number of upcoming solo shows including one on September 7 at Dallas’ Bend Studio. Folks who made his last show at Bend reported a stellar, smoke-free atmosphere that was matched by an even better performance. And don’t forget that Rhett will more than likely be rolling out many of the numbers off his upcoming third solo album. Catch these shows if you can! And remember in the last update, we mentioned that Rhett will be contributing “Girl” to an upcoming Rubber Soul tribute? Well now we’ve got more details, and krikey, that’s also shaping up to be another great project.

Murry’s also been out solo, generally in support of his lovely and talented missus, Grey DeLisle, and her new album, Iron Flowers. And boy oh boy, is Grey ever getting some great buzz for her take on Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” On top of that, Grey may well be the hardest working woman in show-business, certainly in animated show-business, as Congress has apparently passed a law making it official: Grey DeLisle now supplies the voice for every single animated female character on TV.

Now let’s get our video on, shall we? Time after time, I keep posting these links to the personal page of überfan, Dr. David Welsh (“I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy,” thinks the webmaster as he types those words), wherein the good Doctor posts various and sundry live and rare Old 97’s video clips. Well he’s at it again with several new ones up on his site. I don’t believe our bandwidth demands have yet been enough to crash his site, so why doncha just head on over and take a peek? It won’t hurt nothin’, and you’ll be glad you did.

Oh and for you completists, the Old 97’s make an appearance on a new comp from Compadre Records, titled Brewed in Texas, Vol. 2, with “Niteclub.” I’ll tell you, I didn’t have much Texas music in my collection before I first heard the 97’s back in ’93, and thanks to them, it’s the type of artists that appear on this comp who also show up a heck of a lot more frequently in my CD collection. This collection’s well worth checking out.

And now, Hit By A Train’s “scattershot links quiz” (TM) for this episode: Here’s a fantastic review of Drag It Up. QUESTION: In addition to the undeniable quality of the music and performances, why does the reviewer like the Old 97’s? I’ll send out hard-to-get, Wreck Your Life poster to the person who submits the correct answer first. New West has helpfully compiled the bulk of their Drag It Up publicity photos here. ASIDE: Am I the only one who was sorta hoping Rhett would pull his old BCG’s (or birth-control glasses, as we used to call ’em in the Army) when the 97’s did their Hitchhike To Rhome anniversary show last fall? Finally, on the off chance you’re a fan who’s never actually gotten to see the Old 97’s live, here’s a not untypical review of an Old 97’s show published earlier this year. Enjoy.

Let’s close this update out with more good news. No doubt you’ve heard about the horrible and paralyzing injuries sustained by David Cunniff, after he was attacked following an Old 97’s show at the Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas last summer. Well now, as living proof that prayers do get answered, Mr. Cunniff, while still near the beginning of a long, hard road back to good health, is walking again. Read about it here, take care, and check back soon.

So yeah im late

July 5, 2005

So yeah, I’m late. Can I make it up to you with the biggest update in months? Thanks, that’s nice of you. Can I touch you there? OK, sorry. On with the news then. See one of the reasons I’m late is that in the never-ending quest to provide you only with quality Old 97’s news you can use, I usually don’t just make stuff up. Usually. And this is one of those times; as when I heard the following tidbits, I had to wait for confirmation from the guys.

So whadya want first, the good news or the bad news? I thought so, I’m the same way: Bad news first. Here we go:

1) The will be no holiday record this year from the 97’s, as the project is being pushed back into 2006. Between the crazy schedules and the upcoming live Live CD from the band and Rhett’s solo CD, it’s thought that there’d be too little time to do the thing properly and perhaps even be too much Old 97’s related product for the store shelves, which is dumb if you ask me. There can never be too much Old 97’s on the shelves.

2) Murry’s solo CD is also being pushed back into next year as well, for perhaps some of the reasons in #1 above, but also because Murry says he’s “been more in the mood to do the music up at church than work on it, but it’s all seasonal, and now the season is starting to come back on where I get to work on it again.” Well OK, I guess, so long as he doesn’t go Brian Wilson on us and let this and the Rancheros CD slide until we’re all old and crazy. BTW, the Tour Dates page has been updated, and you’ll note that both Murry and Grey will each be playing solo on a Dallas bill that includes Slaid Cleaves, on July 28th at the Granada Theater.

Now the good:

1) The Old 97’s Live CD will not be out in 2006 after all. Instead it will be out this September, and if Murry’s right, it’s gonna smoke:

“I went to Austin a few days ago to oversee the mixing of it all and I was shocked at how good it all sounded. It’s going to be the live record we’ve always wanted to put out… And it was good to hear some material that sounds a little slick to me on record, get the rough treatment live.”

Don’t forget to check out these new tidbits from the Gruene Hall tapings, here from the San Antonio News-Express and here, from senior photographer David Reaves of The Deadly Daily Texan, who also passed along these awesome photos of the Gruene shows.

2) Rhett’s solo CD is still on for a Fall release, and Rhett was also in the studio late last month with Dallas whiz-kid musician, producer, and Instigator collaborator, Salim Nourallah, where they cut a cover of John Lennon’s “Girl” for an upcoming Beatles comp.

3) So you wanna to be a rock & roll star? I can’t help you there, but if you’d like to try your hand at being in a movie with your favorite rock & roll stars, well just maybe. There’s no need to recount here the sign of the end-times that was the Brad Pitt – Jennifer Anniston breakup, and the subsequent fallout which ended with photos of the him in sweat-drenched jungles of passion with Angelina Jolie. No, our purpose here is higher! See, Jenn’s easing her pain by working through it, and making a new movie with Vince Vaughn up in Chicago called The Break Up. The “break-up”? Oh, I get it!

So on July 13th and 14th they’re going to be filming a concert scene at Chicago’s Riviera Theater. So who’s going to be in concert? Uhm… wait a minute, let me guess… Yep, the Old 97’s. And they need Old 97’s fans to help populate the show for filming. So, you in? Great! Call the casting company RIGHT NOW at 708-802-1894 for details on how you might be cast as an extra.

Short takes:

One of Murry’s old Epiphone guitars is for sale. No money? Fine. Murry’s also been playing solo nearly every Wednesday night lately.

“I play the pump harmonium, the 12-string guitar, 6-string guitar (mostly), and Grey will play a couple on her autoharp with me most Wednesdays. Best part – we do nothing but the old music. Every week it’s Hank Williams, Carter Family, Johnny Cash, Flatt & Scruggs, Doc Watson, Rev. Charlie Jackson, Mississippi John Hurt, you name it, and the really old stuff like Washington Phillips and a bunch of 1930’s stuff that will raise the hair on the back of your neck. Just all that old music that is so dear to me. And they love it. It has really been special. We call it a ‘dogma free zone’, so I’d describe it as a very comfortable environment to be in, no matter what your spiritual compass points to. We’d sure love to visit with any Old 97’s fans that don’t mind sitting in a church pew and hear me sing.”

The Old 97’s have always been pretty good at coming up with fake band names when they wanted to preview new stuff on the q.t.. This however, is not a fake band. I wonder where the name came from? Y’all check back soon!

From the San Antonio News-Express:

Old 97’s don’t break — but break a sweat — for packed house

Robert Johnson
San Antonio Express-News Staff Writer

NEW BRAUNFELS — “Oh, man, it’s hot,” said Old 97’s singer/guitarist/front man Rhett Miller, stating the obvious to a packed crowd at Gruene Hall Friday night. “But we’re rolling tape, so you guys gotta clap like it’s 60 degrees.”

Playing the first of two sold-out shows being recorded for a live album due sometime in 2006, the alt-country quartet charged throught a sweaty two-hour show in the sweltering hall. It turned into something of an endurance contest for both band and fans, one of whom passed out near the front of the stage during the first encore.

Miller, who later reported that the stricken fan was OK, said he was unaware what he was getting into with the old hall, which was warmer than usual thanks to a breeze-free night.

Saying he had heard the temperature had hit 97 degrees earlier in the day, Miller said, “I took that as a good omen. Then I found out that the club didn’t have air conditioning.” That changed his mind, he added.

The fan’s moment of distress reminded bassist Murry Hammond of a similar incident at a 1999 show in Denton. “I passed out right in the middle of my own song (‘W. TX Teardrops’) once.”

It’s amazing they didn’t need to take a break for intravenous fluids.

Miller, Hammond, guitarist Ken Bethea and drummer Philip Peeples played with a fervor that left them soaked with sweat long before they waved goodnight.

The band obviously wanted to have a wide range of material to choose from for its first live CD. The set list ranged from cuts off the latest CD, “Drag It Up” (2004) to longtime club favorites from the early days to one cut (“Cryin’ Drunk”) that had been released only on a seven-inch vinyl record.

Kicking off with “Streets of Where I’m From,” the band emphasized its twangier side most of the evening. Two “Drag It Up” cuts, “Smokers” and “Won’t Be Home,” had extra bite in concert. Hammond introduced “Smokers by saying, “This one’s about the bad ol’ days when we all used to smoke before we all quit.”

Bethea sang lead on “Coahuila,” which he said was inspired by seeing Joe “King” Carrasco at Gruene Hall back when he was at Southwest Texas State.

Hammond offered a Waylon Jennings tribute in the form of “Iron Road.”

Ending the main set with crowd favorites “Big Brown Eyes” and “Four-Leaf Clover,” the band returned after Miller did a solo acoustic “Questions” and backed Hammond on another encore staple, “Valentine.” The pop-rock gem “Rollerskate Skinny” and the raveup “If My Heart Was a Car” completed the first encore and the band bowed out, presumably to towel off, after a second encore that featured Don Walser’s “Rolling Stone From Texas” and a band oldie “Stoned.”

Responding an audience request, Miller said, “We have to leave something for tomorrow night.” If they did, it didn’t show.

Opening act Bobby Bare Jr. turned in an entertaining 55-minute set despite being out of his element a bit. His set began with daylight still streaming throught the hall’s chicken wire. “It’s like playing for summer camp,” he said.