News

OK kids, so with yesterday’s announcement of a gig on the Grand Opening weekend at Dallas’ new House of Blues (with shows from Joss Stone, George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic, followed by your Old 97’s on Friday, May 11), the 97’s now have four of their planned forty 2007 dates up, and my hunch is that we’ll see additional dates hit the wires soon.

In addition Rhett just announced an NYC solo show on March 23 at the Hiro Ballroom in the Maritime Hotel, and there’s yet another great feature piece on Rhett from the Miami New Times. Also, if you happen to be a music-biz type who’s still gainfully employed after the industry “shakeout” (read: “bloodbath”) of recent years, you might also be interested in catching Rhett as a panelist at ASCAP’s “I Create Music” Expo, from April 19-21, at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel in El Lay. Might that coincide with a Rhett, Ranchero Brothers, or Old 97’s SoCal show? I have no idea, but I’ll be keeping fingers crossed.

Having followed the 97’s since their Hitchhike to Rhome days, it’s a real kick to see that they’ve been making great music for so long that they’re now acknowledged as an inspiration by both up and coming bands and music critics alike. For example, in this recent interview with the guys in Limbeck, (whose 2005 country-rock jewel Let Me Come Home has been on steady rotation on my iPod ever since) they cite the Old 97’s as a major influence:

So basically, we got a bunch of Bob Dylan records, and Johnny Cash records… listening to bands like Big Star, the Old 97’s, The Eagles, and stuff like that. It’s all incredibly great driving music. So it was the soundtrack to our touring. Back then artists would have time to develop and progress, so there was no need for them to jump on the bandwagon and put out the same record as everyone else to keep afloat. We took note of that and we wrote what felt right, and what felt good. So our end product is a record that we’re very proud of.

Seems to me that with musical cues like those, you’re off to a great start!

Then there are the writers at Pitchfork, bless their pointy little heads. Recently Pitchfork reviewed the new album from The Broken West, I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On. (Which BTW is unbelievably good. Buy this thing if you know what’s good for you!) The review opens thusly:

Power pop is easy to do, but difficult to do well. Guitar bands playing sorta catchy hooks at sorta fast tempos abound, most hewing closely to the same styles and structures. Occasionally you get a Cheap Trick, Big Star, Fight Songs-era Old 97’s, or early-90s Matthew Sweet, artists who take to the form like a birthright. But they’re usually the exceptions.

Didja catch that reference to “Fight Songs-era Old 97’s?” I’ve always thought that to be a beauty of this band: There’s the country-rock of Wreck Your Life, the twangy punk of Too Far To Care, Pitchfork’s preferred power-pop on Fight Songs, and on and on. See, when people talk about their favorite Old 97’s disc, one is almost reminded of Homer Simpson’s eternal question: “Rock stars, is there anything they don’t know?”

Which brings us to our next 97’s tribute. The folks at indie music blog HearYa, recently compiled their chronological list of the “Top 100 Indie Songs of All Time,” and you’re dang right, the Old 97’s make the list with… Power-pop? Twangy punk? Come on guess…

“Victoria”

I love it.

Apropos of absolutely nothing, every few months I get requests to ask the 97’s to play a wedding. Which they don’t do. Still, if you’ve ever hankered to have the band play your venue or event, you’d best get familiar with the Old 97’s contract “rider” which specifies the goodies required inside their dressing room walls. Here’s one from 2004 and it’s worth a peek, if just to guess who asked for what. Go ahead, try it.

Finally, free music! Get yer free music here! The good folks at Bloodshot have teamed up with emusic to offer a free .mp3 collection called, naturally, Bloodshot Records Honky-Tonk Compilation, to which the Old 97’s contribute “W.I.F.E.” and you can get that sucker rat cheer. So do it, and check back soon! Cheers.