Archive for 2007

I suppose I’m long overdue to make my first post here at HBAT. After all, Frank showed me which mat the key is under weeks ago. Of course, it helps to have something to say — and what better subject than a live show review, AND some insider info on the upcoming Old 97’s album?

The boys played to a packed house at La Zona Rosa in Austin this past Saturday. The set list was heavy on the rock, and the banter was minimal. The crowd was a little tame for an Austin show, with the exception of a rowdy crew up front, Murry-side. (It’s one thing to pogo through “Timebomb;” it’s another to, um, mosh. I highly recommend it.) It was everything we’ve come to expect from an Old 97’s show — strings were broken, booties were shaken, leaps were leapen.

There was one new song on the original set list: “Dance With Me,” which debuted at the recent memorial show for Carter in Dallas. A rollicking, happy tune that showcases more of the surf guitar chops Ken revealed in “Smokers.” Thereafter, Ken was supposed to sing “Coahuila.” Instead he stepped up to the mic and called for another new song, to everyone’s surprise (particularly Rhett’s ;]). I didn’t catch the name, but it was another rocker, and has me eagerly anticipating the new album even more.

I actually spoke to Ken a bit before the show about just that, and let me tell you, he is PUMPED. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen him so enthused about an upcoming album. He compared the recording process to that of Too Far To Care, and he compared the overall sound to that of the Clash’s London Calling. He was extremely complimentary of the songwriting this time around, saying it’s the best batch of songs they’ve had to work with in years. You could tell he’s had a good time in the studio, and I expect the guitar work on this one to really crank things up a notch.

You lucky folks going to the Dallas show tonight, have fun! I am jealous. -jeff

So, you want the good news or bad news first? Yeah, me too, give me the bad first every time. So here goes: The new Old 97’s album, rumored for release in February, is now looking to be on store shelves in April. Yeah, I know.

But the good? Well, in recent posting on his MySpace and RhettMiller.com blogs, Rhett note’s he’s got “Here It Is Christmas Time” streaming, and “Meteor Shower” and “World Inside The World” available as free downloads on his MySpace page. In bigger news, Rhett has this to say about the Old 97’s album:

I have been in the studio with the 97’s for the last three months and we are a couple of weeks away from finishing what promises to be our best album in ten years, if not ever. We are working in Dallas’ Pleasantry Lane Studios with Salim Nourallah producing. Sonically, the album is dense and rich. It rocks as much as anything we have ever done.

I will understand if you are skeptical about the truth of the preceding claims. You have heard a lot of musicians go on about how each album is their best yet (if not THE best yet), but when you finally hear our new record you will remember these words and realize that I was not merely trafficking in hyperbole for the sake of hype. This record has me jazzed.

And you know what? I don’t remember Rhett ever talking like that about how good an upcoming album will be.

If he’s jazzed, well so am I. Intrigued too, and ready for April. But first things first: Here’s wishing y’all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Safe and Peaceful New Year! – frank

Hi Everybody! Well the new old97s.com site went live early this morning. Make sure to check it out, and don’t forget to adjust your bookmarks, as both old97s.com and hitbyatrain.com will be frequently updated with late-breaking Old 97’s news and features! Also, those of us on the current Old 97’s mailing list really ought to get on over to the new list and update our info, as official mailing list members will now have the opportunity to get in on ticket pre-sales and on other breaking news before it’s released to the general public. And if you’re not on the Old 97’s official mailing list yet, why not sign up today? I have.

Her It Is Christmas TimeIn other big news, the new holiday single from Old 97’s is out today on iTunes. “Here It Is Christmas Time” is the name, iTunes users can get it here, and everyone can check it out streaming at the Old 97’s iLike page and MySpace page (which also features the guys on “Holly Jolly Christmas”).

And don’t forget to check the Tour Dates page as we’ve got a bunch of new Rhett solo dates, including links for pre-sale tickets. Finally, those Old 97’s NYE tickets are going fast, so get yours today!frank

Howdy gang! Hope everyone survived Turkey Day in fine form, and enjoyed some good food, great company, and the old-fashioned ass-whuppin’ the Cowboys laid on the Jets. Don’t laugh. Here in Texas, watching a team from New York take a beating in any sport, especially while sitting in a BarcaLounger with a belly full of L-tryptophan and sweet-potato pie, is more fun than a box full of puppies. And that’s a whole lot of fun.

Elsewhere in town, the estimable Old 97’s fan, raconteur, man about town, and noted Ft. Worth psychologist, Dr. David Welsh, attended last week’s Rhett-Murry-Ranchero Brothers benefit show in Dallas, along with his family, and afterward followed up with this outstanding multimedia review. (Make sure to check out those video clips!) Thanks, Doc. Now the rest of you, let’s get out there and see if we can’t put a strain on the good doctor’s server, OK? BTW doc, I can’t sit still in class and I think my mother hates me. Oh look, a chicken! So what do you think? Ritalin? Please?

You guys may not have noticed some of the changes over on the “Contact” page in recent months, but perhaps the most important has been a change in management for the Old 97’s, who are now represented by Danny Goldberg and Jesse Bauer of Gold Village Entertainment. Why should you care? Well, Mr. Goldberg’s stable of artists has, over the years, included the likes of the Beastie Boys and… Nirvana. Not bad, eh? The NY Post also recently caught up with him for this feature story.

I mention this because it ties in with the rest of this post. It’s no secret that the Old 97’s have never had the big-time web presence they’ve deserved. Ken Bethea was the band’s original webmaster, and ran old97s.com in his spare time for a few years before he punted and aimed their URL at hitbyatrain.com back in late 2000 or so.

But Hit By A Train was and is mainly a fan site that I run in my spare time. So despite two professional makeovers from from Austin’s Jeff Neely and Co., the 97’s actual impact on the web has been pretty limited compared to other bands. And let’s face it, if bands today have got to be able to generate both buzz and bucks from their websites, that ability has been limited for the 97’s, as they’ve simply made do with this fan-site for seven-plus years.

Well that’s about to change, as sometime in December, old97s.com will – at long last – finally be in the full-time hands of the web pros at OfficialCommunity.com. They’re Toronto-based, extremely well thought of it the biz, and recently took over the day-to-day managing of RhettMiller.com. I think you’ll agree Rhett’s is a good looking site. (BTW, don’t forget to check the Tour page for a bunch of new Rhett solo shows.) Anyhow, kudos to the 97’s new management for finally kicking the Old 97’s web presence into high gear.

As for HBAT, it will keep on keepin’ on, and hopefully better than ever. First of all, I hope you’ll all give a warm Old 97’s welcome to two new contributors here at Hit By A Train. First up is the aforementioned Jeff Neely, Austin-based ad exec, web designer extraordinaire, and long-time fan of the band. Joining him is Dallas’ own Michael Johnson, who’s also paid-up member of the Old 97’s family, having run the Old 97’s MySpace page since its inception. Both these guys are well wired into the world of Old 97’s news and happenings, and their contributions will greatly improve HBAT’s timely coverage of all-things Old 97’s.

Second, before HBAT became the “official” site too, it was much more cheeky and gossip-filled than it has been since, as I’ve always felt the need to be at least a little circumspect when putting out “news” under the old97s.com name. Well soon, we can kick out the jams again. As a fan site, because there was no need to refrain from “jumping the gun” on spreading the news, hitbyatrain.com used to scoop old97s.com all the time too, and it would be fun to do that again. So there you go.

Now you guys be nice to the new web gurus, both at Hit By a Train and Old97s.com, as they get their sea-legs in the, uhm… “enthusiastic” world of Old 97’s fandom, and don’t forget to adjust your bookmarks, as you’ll soon have two complete sites on which to get your daily dose of Old 97’s, www.old97s.com and www.hitbyatrain.com!

Finally, the good folks at the Texas state tourism office are featuring a pretty neat interview with the guys on their website. While it’s P.D. cool that Old 97’s are increasingly, and rightly, thought of as a Texas institution and a draw for out-of-staters, Murry and Philip still can’t seem to get their names spelled correctly. Ah well. More soon!

Just two quick items today: The Old 97’s have taken advantage of their current time in the studio to add one yet another song to their growing Christmas catalog. It’s a Rhett Miller original called “Christmas Time” and we may actually see it released in time for the holidays! BTW, Rhett has played it live here and there, so you may have heard it already, and like others, assumed the title to be “All I Want is You for Christmas.” (Thanks for the tip, Doc! – f.e.)

Also, we’ve got a bunch of new Rhett Miller solo shows up on the Tour page, along with one new – if as of yet unconfirmed – Old 97’s show, that one reported to be a December 28th appearance at the Texas Bowl TexFest in Houston. More soon!

What are you doing New Years Eve? I mean besides that? Howz ’bout heading to Dallas’ historic Longhorn Ballroom for the return of one of Texas’ finest musical traditions, ringing in the New Year with Old 97’s!

Arguably even more of a cultural landmark than Dallas’ famed Sons of Hermann Hall, the Longhorn Ballroom has one remarkable history. Built in 1950 by the father of Western Swing, Bob Wills, and originally called “Bob Wills Ranch House,” it was intended to be the new home base for his Texas Playboys. But bad business decisions and a debt to the IRS soon forced Wills to sell the building to another Dallas club owner, one Jack Ruby. Yeah, that Jack Ruby.

Renamed the Longhorn Ballroom, the club then went on to host THE biggest names in country music for another quarter century – Willie, Loretta Lynn and Ernest Tubb regularly graced its stage – before it hosted its most notorious show ever, the January 10, 1978 show by the Sex Pistols, during which a wasted Sid Vicious was viscously head-butted by a female audience member. The Pistols played just two final dates on their tour before disbanding, but the Longhorn Ballroom soldiered on, and just after the Pistols left the country, hosted its next gig: Merle Haggard.

So come on out on December 31st! Soak up some history along with some suds. Who knows, maybe the 97’s will even play “Miss Molly” (orig. Bob Will & His Texas Playboys) or “Beer Cans” (orig. Homer Henderson, who also penned the infamous “Lee Harvey was a Friend of Mine,” Lee Harvey himself having been put away by that other one-time owner of the Longhorn Ballroom 😉 Either way, you know the Old 97’s will be playing at least a few cuts off their upcoming album, plus all of the favorites that have made them Texas legends in their own right. So be there for what’s sure to be one unforgettable show. And you say can’t find tickets? Not to worry, we’ll have that info here just as soon as it becomes available.

And speaking of new songs, Pegasus News last week posted a free clip of the Old 97’s public debut of one of their new tracks, taped at the Carter Albrecht Memorial show. The song would appear to be titled “Dance With Me” and you can check out the video here. And don’t forget to click here or scroll down that page for a link to a fantastic 1995 KCRW in-studio performance by the band.

And Austinites, don’t fret, as y’all get your own chance to see the boys NYE week too, as on Saturday December 29, the Old 97’s play your own La Zona Rosa. Now, nobody claims the history of LZR matches that of the Longhorn, but on December 29 the music will surely be the equal of that in Dallas on the 31st.

All right, I’ve got a few more things, but I need to get out the door and vote today. You do too, so go!

So Saturday’s Carter Albrecht Memorial show was, by all accounts, a smashing success. But your chance to help isn’t over yet. By clicking here you can donate to the Carter Albrecht Music Foundation. In exchange for each donation, feel free to download one of the many full-length, hi-bandwidth video’s of Saturday’s performances.

That’s a good deal for a great cause.

Here’s another: On November 17, Rhett is playing solo at the Granada, this time benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, as part of their Breath Easy Concert Series, to help find and fund the cure for Cystic Fibrosis. And now, there’s an added bonus for this show too. One Murry Hammond will be opening, previewing tracks from his new solo album, I Don’t Know Where I’m Going But I’m On My Way, with the CD itself being on sale afterwards. Then for the encore of Rhett’s set, expect a mini-set from the mighty, mighty Ranchero Brothers. Rhett and Murry played a show in a similar format at LA’s Largo earlier this year, and the reviews from those attending that night describe one of the most magical nights of music they’d ever experienced.

So as if you needed another good reason to attend what was already set to be a great night of music, well now you have a basketful: Rhett, Murry, and the Rancheros; all for a great cause. And why don’t you have your tickets yet?

More soon!

From Mike Daniel in today’s Dallas Morning News and its GuideLive.com music blog:

Saturday’s Carter Albrecht Memorial Concert at the Granada Theater is turning out to be a doozy.

First selling point: Dallas’ dreamiest alt-country sons, the Old 97’s (yep, the comma’s still in the name these days, folks) is headlining it. The Old 97’s sold out House of Blues’ Music Hall, which holds 600 more patrons than the 1,000-capacity Granada, back in May. Shaaa!

Second: Sorta — the band that Mr. Albrecht was so intimately intertwined in when he was shot dead through a door on Labor Day — will perform for the first time since his passing. And word on the street is that the nearly completed next Sorta CD is now actually completed. I’m still in awe that has come to pass already.

Third: all proceeds will benefit the Carter Albrecht Music Foundation, which now has at least one defined aim; to aid emerging and independent Dallas-area pop music talent in both obtaining and paying for studio time to make and distribute recordings. Sensational, I say.

Finally: the roster below the headliners is crazy strong: the Drams (or: Slobberbone, v2.0), Salim Nourallah (the city’s best songwriter, and a kind man to boot), Stephen Collins of Deadman (post-alt morosity a la Gram Parsons; and boy, does a set by this guy fit here) and Chris Holt’s super new project, the Slack.

Get yer 30-buck passes quick, folks. If you still can.

Dreamy, eh?

Well, it could hardly be for a better cause. “Sensational” even. And the “crazy strong” bill bit is right on the money too. So we’ll let “dreamiest” bit slide. This time 😉

(p.s. – 10.19.07: According to Pegasus News, the concert “will be recorded with downloads available at Pegasus News, donations of which will also go to the foundation.”)

Also, I just found something really cool. Go to the iTunes store, and search for the Old 97’s. Then scroll down to “Podcasts” and check out the “Podcast with Old 97’s.” Recorded earlier this year at the Fillmore in San Francisco, it’s a great interview with Rhett and Murry, with stuff about the new CD; their favorite 97’s albums; touring; the internet and the record business; and an extended description about their most memorable show: The wild and oversold (and closed down by the fire marshal) Denton show in the summer of 1999, where Murry passed out cold on-stage. Check it out.

Finally, there’s finally a big, update to the “Discography” page. It should now include most, if not all, commercially available Old 97’s releases, be they albums, comps, singles, soundtracks, EP’s, DVD’s, and even those fairly rare promo discs that pop up on Ebay. But I sometimes hear about releases that have escaped me, so if you see something missing, please do speak up!

So if there’s some tweaking yet to do, there’s still another big project on tap: A push to round out or complete the lyrics, chords, and tabs page. If you’ve got the time to submit lyrics not yet shown on the site, please feel free. In addition, any budding guitar gods who might be willing to tab out or submit chords for Old 97’s songs, well, we’d love to have your submissions too. It would be especially helpful if they were in a simple .txt file, in the same manner as those already on the site. Contributions would of course be fully credited.

See, for many years now, this has been one of the few “official” band sites, that’s also a “fan” site, and from the earliest days of Hit By A Train, it’s been your submissions, suggestions, hints, and tips that have helped to keep the site fresh.

Well there’s a new CD coming (The first new studio album in… nearly four years! Can that possibly be right? – f.e.) and no better time than to keep freshening up the site. So thanks in advance for your feedback and assistance!