Archive for 2005

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:

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!

Oh almost forgot, is rerunning this spring’s “A Night With The Old 97’s,” the benefit concert for David Cunniff, on May 31 at 3:30 pm ET. If you’ve got HD you’re in luck. First of course, you’ve got HD, and second, here’s a second chance to catch a great bill for a great cause. And more good news for everyone: Mr. Cunniff’s attacker has been sentenced to 19 years in the can. Good.

With God as my witness, I will never go so long between updates again. Sorry to go all Gone With The Wind on ya’, and I won’t bore you with stories about the IRS, laptops, the airline industry, and visits to the doctors. Let’s talk Old 97’s shall we? The guys have been busy, with Rhett (to whom Stephen King gives a shout-out in a recent edition of Entertainment Weekly) in the studio to record the follow-up to 2002’s The instigator.

And y’all know that June’s shows will see the guys the recording their first ever live CD (of course their first live DVD, “Old 97’s Live” was released in January.) Just check the list of upcoming tour dates, and if you can get to central Texas, you really ought to try to hit the guy’s shows on June 17 or 18 in Texas oldest continually operating dance hall, the great old Gruene Hall in Gruene, Texas.

Then in July, the band reconvenes in the studio to wax what ought to be a treat for both for their little kids, and for overgrown kids like yours truly: an Old 97’s Christmas album. Anyone who’s ever heard their 1995 takes on “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas,” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” knows this idea is a natural. Murry Hammond also hits the studio in the weeks ahead to complete his third solo album. Notes Wrecker Lisa H.:

The first one was The Waterling Wheel and the second one was It’s a Twelve Twelve Twelve (etc.) String World. WW is from 1988. 12 String is from ’91.

12 String includes early versions of “Can’t Get a Line” AND “Smokers,” plus a song called “Song for Bervia Plunk” that [was re-recorded] on Waterling Wheel as “Summer ’84,” which Rhett has been known to cover from time to time (and I think quoted in his high school yearbook). It’s really purty.

It IS really purty, and better yet is that “Summer ’84” may finally get to shine on CD, as a cut on Murry’s upcoming album.

Oh yeah, did you happen to catch the nod from Bizarro author Dan Piraro to the Old 97’s in last month’s funny papers? Here ’tis.

Finally, no more goofing around here. Your guarantee for the summer? Check back each week, as I promise you’ll get at least one news update every seven days. So see you in a few!

See, I wasn’t kidding, the Lyrics/Tabs are finally back up. Yeah, OK, so I’m still working on the Drag It Up section, but just getting the java coding tweaked took a few hours, and now that the hard part is done, getting the Drag It Up section included should be cake.

Also, joining a long-line of great line of Old 97’s cover and/or “in cognito” bands, ladies and gentlemen, give it up for the West Texas Teardrops. Here’s Ken Bethea with the explanation over on Hitchhiking:

The West Tx. Teardrops will be playing during SXSW at the Longbranch Inn, at:1133 East 11th on Thursday night (March 17). That’s Philip, Murry and I. I think it’s like 5 bucks, not part of the SXSW stuff. If you’ve
ever met Noah Polk, our T-shirt and drum tech, he works there when not on tour and put this together. Should be fun. I think we’ll do about 18-20 songs including some on Murry’s solo cd he’s working on (and keeping very hush-hush) and some of my Scrap Hotel songs (including “The Bug Song” for all you entomologists.

The Long Branch is pretty small (100?) but it’s near enough to the main SXSW stuff that you can be over and back fairly easily I think. The only suck part is that I don’t know what time we’re playing. I would think around 10:00. If I find out from Noah I’ll post it here.

I hope you can make it to the Cunniff benefit in Dallas next month. It should be fun and the cause, of course, is worth your $$. (Check out this week’s Dallas Observer with lots more on the “Dallas Rocks For David” show – Frank)

Besides the West Texas Teardrops and the previously announced 97’s shows on 3/11 and 3/12, the guys have firmed up some dates for their May mini-tour, which thus far includes St Louis, Chicago, and Cleveland. In addition, Rhett will be playing another solo at San Francisco on Saturday, April 2, at the Swedish Hall, above Cafe du Nord. Check it all out on the Tour Dates page.

Finally, what occurs more often than Hailey’s Comet but less often than the Olympics? Give up? It’s the appearance of a new Old 97’s music video! No kidding. The first was an indie clip for the 1993 version of “St Ignatius,” and the second appeared in 1999 for “Jagged.” Well now their third is up and ready for your viewing pleasure. It’s a directed by Kevin McAlester, and if you had to chose which single off DIU would produce a video, I’ll bet you might not have chosen “In The Satellite Rides A Star.” Why not? Well, while it is drop-dead gorgeous, it’s also slow, mildly trippy, and a Murry-song (TM). But the video is a hoot. Check it out!

Howdy everybody! We’ve got dates for some new new live Old 97’s and Rhett Miller shows posted – and rumors of a few more – but by far the most important of them is this one, the announcement cribbed from the good folks at the AllGood Cafe:

Friday, March 11, 2005

DALLAS Rocks For DAVID !!!

Old 97’s
Deathray Davies
Salim Nourallah
Spector 45
Special Appearance by:
Max Stalling

All proceeds to benefit David Cunniff and payment of his extensive medical and rehabilitation costs.

All bands are performing at no cost. This includes out-of-state members of Old 97’s paying their own travel expenses, and all support crews.

Sponsorship to help underwrite production costs is being solicited. Costs include Sound Production and engineers, Stage Lighting, Box Office, Security, Insurance, etc. These costs are between $4000.00 and 5000.00, and can be split according to ability to give.

Advertising space is being donated by Dallas Observer.

Donations are also being requested for a silent auction, to augment the fund-raising effort. Autographed band instruments, CDs, pictures, T-shirts, etc… Dinner/Dining Coupons for area restaurants, Show tickets, services and whatever might help raise more for the cause are needed.

Any interested parties or suggested donors please contact Mike Snider @ 214-348-9426.

Thanks for anything you can do to help make this event special.


Doors at 7PM Tickets $25.00
Available at the Lakewood Theatre box office, AllGood Cafe, And all TICKETMASTER Outlets

Also, we’ve got a couple of new reviews of the Old 97’s Live DVD including this from the Madison (WI) Capital Times:

“Old 97’s Live,” New West Records: The Americana quartet is exuberance personified in this concert DVD, taken from a club show at Los Angeles’ The Troubadour in March of last year. It was one of the first live gigs for the band since singer Rhett Miller took some time off to do his solo album, “The Instigator,” and the chemistry is still as strong as ever.

New songs like “Smokers” and “Won’t Be Home” do just fine, but it’s the old favorites like “Rollerskate Skinny” and “Murder (Or A Heart Attack)” that will make this a worthwhile document for the fan. The footage is often shot from below (probably a necessity in a club setting) looking up at the band, so you feel like you’re really standing there in the first few rows. Fortunately, there’s no dancing guy next to you spilling his beer on your arm.

There’s also this from Amazon:

Old 97’s Live underscores how one of the premier alt-country, No Depression bands of the 1990s has become a truly eclectic, power pop quartet with a gritty folk heart and penchant for lyrical mischief. (“You’re a bottle cap away / From pushing me too far.”) Drawing from each of their six albums, Old 97’s brought the crowd at Santa Monica’s Troubadour club to visible delirium at a March 2004 show; that concert appears here. Sounding very much like hard-charging heirs to vast legacies of the Kinks, Hank Williams, the Replacements, Johnny Cash, REM, and even White Album-era Beatles, singer-songwriter-guitarist Rhett Miller, drummer Philip Peeples, lead guitarist Ken Bethea, and bassist Murry Hammond paint loss with rootsy-poetic authenticity while blowing gloom apart with punky exhilaration. The many highlights include the agreeable pop plaint “Rollerskate Skinny” (“I believe in love / But it don’t believe in me”), the anthemic anti-anthem “Friends Forever,” and Hammond’s moving, acoustic solo on “Valentine.” –Tom Keogh

You guys may have also noted that there’s now a Grammy on the mantle in the home of one Old 97, as Murry’s bride, Grey DeLisle took home a statuette for “Willie We Have Missed You,” her contribution to Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs Of Stephen Foster, which won the 2005 Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album. (BTW, Murry himself is credited as the “vibe engineer” on Grey’s track, though in a tragic miscarriage of justice, there is no Grammy nominee for the Best Vibe Engineering!) And speaking of… Murry will in all likelihood by joining Grey in most of her upcoming shows… Wait, what do you mean you’ve never heard Grey sing? The shame. Here’s her schedule. Now go!

Ken’s been busy too, last year laying down a wicked solo in the studio on “(I’m Sorry) Caroline,” a cut on So Long Someday, the just released new album from San Francisco’s Firecracker. And this is no gratuitous throwdown, as I first became acquainted with Firecracker’s lead vocalist, Scout, years ago when he was kind enough to serve as an ad hoc, Left Coast correspondent for Hit By A Train, and reviewed several Old 97’s shows for the site.

Finally, what’ll it take, you ask, to get the damn lyrics, chords, and tabs pages back up? Bribery? Threats? Cookies? Complaints to the management? Well some of those have been tried, when in actuality, all that’s needed is me having some free time. For those of you tuning in late, the site is a labor-intensive labor of love, which means I love to do it, but that unlike my day job, it doesn’t actually pay. Also unlike my day job, it doesn’t keep me on the road some twenty-odd days a month. Happily, in the first half of March, I get my first vacation since 2001. (Don’t ask). And guess what’s first on the agenda? Well OK, doing my taxes is first, but second, I’ve got lyrics, chords, and tabs pages ready to roll, along with more news from the Old 97’s. So thanks for checking in and and check back soon!

The evil, brown bean oligarchs over at Starbucks at least show flashes of brilliant musical taste, as their upcoming Valentines Day comp of covers proves. Featuring M. Ward, Joseph Arthur, Neko Case, and our own Old 97’s, among others, Sweetheart: Love Songs went on sale on January 19 at your local Starbucks, at, Hear Music record stores, and Man, I hate to shill for Starbucks, but this looks like one fine comp.

In a post on Hitchhiking, Ken Bethea described the project like this:

We recorded it in September here in Dallas and… there are some other good songs on it, “My Funny Valentine” by Rufus Wainwright, who once partied w/ us on our bus in Canada, hehe quite a character (dammit, i just used “party” as a verb, I suck), Calexico does a Joy Division song and Neko Case (who once crashed our backstage in St. Louis, plopped down in my lap (I had no idea who she was) and purred into my ear until I blushed).

Anyway, check it out next time you get a cup of coffee.

No lie. Check out the list of of performing and original artists, and the track listing:

1. Rufus Wainwright – “My Funny Valentine” (Rodgers & Hart – Ella’s)

2. M. Ward – “Let My Love Open The Door” (Pete Townshend)

3. Neko Case – “Buckets of Rain” (Bob Dylan)

4. Calexico – “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (Joy Division)

5. Old 97’s – “She’s Got Everything” (The Kinks)

6. Gary Jules – “How Can I Tell You” (Cat Stevens )

7. Madeleine Peyroux – “Give Your Mama One Smile” (Big Bill Broonzy)

8. Sondre Lerche – “The More I See You” (Cole Porter – Chet Baker)

9. Martina Topley-Bird – “I Only Have Eyes For You” (The Flamingos)

10. Jim White – “Use Me” (Bill Withers)

11. Joseph Arthur – “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” (The Smiths)

12. Dean & Britta – “Forever” (Beach Boys)

13. Milton Mapes – “Your Sweet Voice” (Matthew Sweet)

14. Vinicius Cantuaria – “Inutil Pasagem” (Jobim)

15. Mindy Smith – “Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square”

BTW each artists also contributes the liner notes for their song. I’m getting mine.

And official word is out now about an item mentioned in the last update, and that is that Rhett has signed on with a new label, Verve Records. Said the Dallas Observer:

No, this does not mean the Old 97’s are breaking up: Rhett Miller has signed a solo contract with Verve Music Group, the major-label home for Diana Krall, Jamie Cullum and Edie Brickell… Miller will start recording sometime this spring along with returning members Jon Brion, who produced The Instigator, and Salim Nourallah, who played bass.

Also, New West Records has a pretty neat promotion up for the new Old 97’s DVD, where you can watch and download a couple of the numbers. Check it out!

Finally, in the post mentioned above, Ken Bethea also said that the band was, “looking into doing some shows in late Feb or March. I’m not sure where though.” You can be sure though, that I’ll post them here, if and when details firm up. So there you go.

Cheers, y’all.