Archive for June, 2005

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.

They do it this week.

That’s right, the first-ever Old 97’s live album will be recorded at their shows this Friday and Saturday at Gruene Hall, just outside New Braunfels, Texas. It’s one of the most historic venues in the state, and what awesome shows these ought to be. I swear the reviews of the shows on this tour are some of the best I’ve read in a couple of years.

The Saturday show is sold out, but at last check, there were still a few tickets left for the Friday set. Get yours here, and miss these shows at your peril!

This was posted yesterday on Hitchhiking:

From Bend Studio:
bendstudio@aol.com

CD Design Contest

As you may or may not know, we are now recording and selling our live shows on CD. What you may not know is that we are able to design art work for the image that appears on the CD itself. And we are able to do different artwork each time.

Here is where you come in… For all of you artists out there…

We would like for you to submit a CD image design, if you are so inclined, for a show that you may be particularly interested in. What we will do is collect all of the designs that we receive, and whenever possible, have the musician pick the winner. That persons artwork will then appear on the CD, and you will also receive 2 free tickets to that show. More specific details to come on file preparation and whatnot, but for now, we are getting dangerously close to a few big shows that we would like to see some work for…

An Intimate Evening with Rhett Miller
Tuesday, June 21st
Deadline for artwork submission Saturday, June 18th

And did you guys get a chance to see the music video, released this past spring for “In The Satellite Rides A Star“? That was just the third-ever video from the guys, the second being a 1999 take on “Jagged.”

Longtime Hit By A Train visitors may remember when we had a copy of the Old 97’s very first video, a pretty darn good-looking 1993 effort for “St. Ignatius.” Unfortunately it was pulled down after we began exceeding bandwidth limitations. In any case, that video promotes 1994’s Hitchhike To Rhome but features the instrumental track from 1993’s self-produced The Old 97’s. In fact it was filmed before, but released after, Philip Peeples had even joined the band and instead featured the then-girlfriend of Rhett Miller “drumming” along to the studio skins work of Lisa Pankritz. (Philip’s scenes were tacked on later to the front and back of the video.)

In any case, it’s time to blow some more bandwidth restrictions, ain’t it? So give it up for the estimable Dr. David Welsh, who’s recently posted a copy of the “St. Ignatius” video on his server. Check it out!

Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re now honored to present Rhett Miller’s Right Nipple.

No it’s not the name of a new band; it’s a picture of an old one: Sleepy Heroes, circa 1990. A nice girl sent me that picture ages ago, and let’s face it, there’s probably no good time – or good reason – to ever actually use something like that. But it’s summer, I’ve got a belly full of pizza and beer, and the Old 97’s are on tour, baby! Plus I promised at least one update each and every week, so there you go.

Next week: Pull Ken’s finger!