Archive for 2007

Notice anything different? If not yet, you will soon, like tonight hopefully. It’s a great new site tweak from Jeff Neely and Larry Lane, creators of the best Hit By A Train design ever, the Satellite Rides version from 2001, this time featuring concert photography from the amazing Alex Myers. I think you’ll agree that the site is much more fresh and readable, to say nothing of the fact that each time you visit, you’ll see a great new shot of the Old 97’s in action, including a couple of excellent snaps of the nearly-impossible to capture Philip Peeples.

Now this won’t be the only new feature at, as the band looks to be prepping a much-expanded web presence in the not-too-distant future, so stay tuned for that.

And that’s small beans compared to the big news: Starting this past Monday, October 8, the Old 97’s are finally back in the studio, baby, laying down tracks for their first album of all-new material since 2004’s Drag It Up! More details soon as we see if we can’t wheedle some updates out of the guys themselves as they roll along, though here’s a sneak peak on the process in a recent interview with Rhett Miller.

You lucky Gothamites might might have had the chance to catch the band late last month, in what was called a great outdoor set, as part of the new, 7 World Trade Center concert series. Rhett, who lived just two blocks from the WTC on 9/11, returned with Ken, Philip, and Murry to lower Manhattan, and in this YouTube clip, the Old 97’s exorcise the demons within earshot of Ground Zero, in a blistering take of “Doreen.”

In other news, the Old 97’s will be heading up a fantastic bill at Dallas’ Granada Theater on Saturday, October 20. It’s a Carter Albrecht Memorial show, and besides the 97’s, features The Drams, Salim Nourallah, Junky Southern, The Slack, Slider Pines, and of course, Carter’s band, Sorta. (BTW, over on Rhett’s MySpace page, he’s got available a great version of “Ain’t That Strange” featuring Carter on guitar, available not only for listening, but for downloading too.)

Then on Saturday, November 17, Rhett returns to the Granada, for a solo show benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Now that’s two great nights of music for two outstanding causes.

Next up: Public servants and Old 97’s, and why many of the former love the latter. First up is this squib on a youngish candidate for the US Congress from Madison, WI, who’s favorite band is… well, you know.

Better still is this blog from one Michael Tomberlin, erstwhile reporter for The Birmingham News, and long-time, self-confessed fan of the Old 97’s, who several months back shed his civvies and the safety of home, for the uniform of a major in the Army National Guard and a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Since arriving he’s kept up his on-line journal, with great descriptions of life on the ground in his sector, and some great photographs too. Scroll down to his October 5 entry. I just hope that spreading hope and good-will to the Afghan people doesn’t include translating a certain loud song for one young Afghan boy. Because really, what would he make of “Timebomb”?

Maybe we can’t all run for Congress or (re)join the Army, but you can do a public service. Why not take a second to click over to They’re doing a poll of listeners all-time “essential artists”, as well as most taking you vote for the “most overrated.” You can vote here.

OK, there’ll be more soon, including some great new photos from Jeff Uleau. Yeah, I know, I’ve been promising those for two months, but wanted to wait for the redesign before adding them to the site. I also need to tweak some site and comments templates before heading out to fly again. Anyhow, check back soon!

On top all the recent Old 97’s shows, boy do we have some solo shows on tap. First up is Murry, playing the Sunday 8/26 in El Lay at the Hotel Cafe. Says Murry, “We’re mixing the solo CD, and I wanted to do a set to polish up my stage legs.”

Then on September 20-23, Rhett plays a series of solo shows in NYC, Chicago, and Milwaukee, including two sets on September 20 at NYC’s Blue Note. Finally, on Saturday, October 27th, the Old 97’s team up for the second time this year with their old friend Willie at Dallas’ Smirnoff Music Center for a “Willie Nelson & Friends” fest. So now I can finally forgive Willie for taking his Fourth of July picnic up to Washington state!

And in album news, late word is that Texas wunderkind (and Instigator on Rhett’s 2002 solo CD of the same name) Salim Nourallah is set to helm the boards as producer of the upcoming Old 97’s CD. You probably heard his earlier work with the 97’s when he produced their cover of the Kinks “She’s Got Everything” on Sweetheart, the 2005 Valentines comp from Starbucks. Check it out, if you haven’t already. And check back soon, as we’ll have more news and some great new band photos from Jeff Uleau. Until then, don’t forget that you can contribute your photos and videos by simply e-mailing them to olds97s AT cellblock DOT com. That’s it for now!

“Tonight, Live at Red Rocks, it’s… The West Texas Teardrops???”

So last week, y’all might remember that the Old 97’s were scheduled to play a great bill at the amazing Red Rocks Amphitheater near Denver. (Rent the classic “U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky” if you have any questions about the venue.)

You might also be familiar with the West Texas Teardrops, a rock-pop-punk-country trio consisting of Philip Peeples, Ken Bethea, and Murry Hammond, who’ve played a handful of club dates over the past couple of years, during times when their erstwhile collaborator, Rhett Miller, is otherwise occupied.

From here it’s probably best to let Murry pick up the story:

One of Rhett’s flights was cancelled day of Red Rocks and word was he wasn’t going to make the gig. We were soundchecking at 1 and got word he was still in Boston. A long ways away from Denver, in airport time, especially for a 6pm play. So – we voted him out of the band over the deal.

Then it was just Ken, Philip and me. It was a harsh penalty to impose, as you know Rhett had a lot of promise as a 97, but we have always required East Germany-style punctuality. Old school. Rhett knew it, and the punishment. Then, before the 97’s corpse had even cooled, we formed The West Texas Teardrops, made a set (mostly – well, all – 97’s tunes because we were fairly new at that point) and went on during the slot the 97’s were to play. We explained it all to the crowd and asked them to root for us as we stepped into an uncertain, but almost certainly successful future.

We were doing real good, too, and were already into our fifth song when HIS MAJESTY comes sauntering in, purple robes flowing, as if we had never thrown him out. We had forgot to tell him of his ousting, which is the one loophole in our punctuality rule, but anyway – through some sort of mind power, he got us to end our song on the spot, and we went into “Barrier Reef”, forgetting about the whole scary, scary day…

Now that is a classic 97’s story, made all the better by the telling, but it got me wondering if there wasn’t some weird vibe between the 97’s and Denver. See, back in ’97 or so, Philip took sick on tour, and the 97’s were forced to play a series of dates with Mike Schwedler – their manager at the time and fortunately for all, a drummer in his earlier years – handling the skins. Just before their Denver show though, Philip – a few pounds lighter, and a shade to two paler, but otherwise none worse for the wear – made his return to the kit.

So there you go: You never know who’ll turn up when the Old 97’s play Denver. Now y’all stay cool (physically I mean; it’s hot out there!) and check back soon.

Well, after much dawdling we’ve added a new feature here at Hit By A Train, whereby you can add your favorite Old 97’s pics and video clips to the site! Just attachment them to any standard email, or even txt/mms from your cell-phone, and send to them olds97s AT cellblock DOT com . The text that you enter for the subject line of your message will be automatically added as the caption for your photo or video, and they’ll show up automatically on our New Images page.

You can post individual photos of up to to 10MB, in BMP, JPG, GIF, and PNG formats.

And we’ll also post your video clips of up to 10MB, in 3G2, AVI, MOV, and WMV formats.

Also, please know that webmaster must approve all new content before it shows up. (i.e., no off-topic or nekid pics allowed, you randy monkeys!) So please be patient if it takes a while for your photos to appear, and know that could be hours or even days, if your webmaster’s out on long trip.

Finally, don’t miss some amazing fan photos taken at the guys’ Lancaster, PA show a week or so ago, and posted in the comments section of the Old 97’s MySpace page. Enjoy!

I think we could call this post Why I love Old 97’s (Vol XXXVI), by Jason Hood. And we’ll let Jason tell it because A) He’s a journalist and writes better than you and I; and B) It’s in the newspaper and I can link to it! Take it away, Jason:

Some times you need a cold beer, a shot of tequila and a honky-tonk love song to get you through the night. Hell, sometimes you need these things to get you through an extraordinarily trying breakfast hour break-up.

Once upon a hard-luck time you could find that honky-tonk love song on the first record of your father’s vinyl collection, every third track played by some high desert radio station or by throwing loose change in the direction of a familiar pool hall jukebox.

Perhaps you’ll stumble across the perfect song -— the song that validates your loneliness and pain -— in a smoky backwater dive, with its creaky barstools and peanut shell floor, thick with too tight miniskirts and boozy recklessness. I’ve been there and so has my buddy Jimmy the Pitbull. In fact, ol’ Jimmy went through three straight relationships and subsequent break-up songs, all in the course of one drunken and worrisome evening in West Tennessee.

But there’s one thing about heartbreak songs, liquor-fueled retrospection and a sticky-damp motel barroom: you tend to never forget them.

On Saturday, Aug. 4, at Belly Up, I know that The Old 97’s will play that unforgettable song.

You gotta read the rest, including his interview with Rhett, right here. And of course if you’re in the greater Aspen metropolitan area, or can get there in the next few hours, there’s that great Old 97’s show. Tonight!

Also we’ve got a few new dates posted, and additional info on others posted on the Tour Dates page. Check it out, and stand by for more here, soon!

And just how are the shows sounding on the current tour? P.D.G. according to this reviewer of last night’s Kansas City show, and this one from the July 7 Milwaukee Summerfest gig. And just before that Milwaukee appearance the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran this excellent primer on the Old 97’s today.

One prop for the 97’s you may have overlooked appeared in the pages of a June Rolling Stone, wherein indie-punk-headbanger Queens of the Stone Age honcho, Joshua Homme, named “Timebomb” as one of his all-time favorite tunes. “Why this… country-rocker wasn’t a worldwide hit, I have no idea.” That makes at least many thousands plus one of us. And speaking of “Timebomb,” it popped up last month on the UK’s looooooooong-running prime-time soap, Emmerdale, on an episode about which one reviewer wrote

Last night’s musical rippers included Beth Orton’s Safe in Your Arms and Time Bomb (sic) by Old 97’s.

Indeed, your evening would have been more profitably spent with the TV off, listening to Old 97’s greatest hits album, Hit By a Train, instead of being clobbered by Emmerdale

Hard to argue there, I’d say.

Of course, “Timebomb” is probably not the all-time most requested, played, or even best-selling Old 97’s tune. If play-counting services like are guide, “Timebomb” is #2. And the number one most popular Old 97’s song to date is…


By a mile. So it was really no surprise to hear that “Question” was named as perfect wedding-mix music in a segment on NPR’s Morning Edition, which you can hear here. Hear here. Get it? So what you got there? Old 97’s news? Reviews? Tib-bits, or a question of your own? Send ’em in to landings DOT geo AT yahoo DOT com, and I’ll do my best to get ’em up. Cheers!