Archive for 2007

We’ve got tons of new stuff, gang, especially new dates. And this is what you call a good, old-fashioned summer tour! Check ’em out here. And you SoCal types ought not miss the just-announced Rhett solo date this Saturday at the legendary Malibu Inn. And speaking of Rhett Decca has also just released a DVD of one of his 2006 shows, this one for World Cafe Live, with a review of the DVD here.

And from our last posting you may remember that Jill from Arlington, TX scored a couple of free ducats to the Old 97’s inaugural gig at Dallas new House of Blues. Per the deal, Jill came though with a review!

I am a gal of my word, and I am holding up my end of the deal. We had a killer time!

I intended to write a riveting review of the Dallas show, but there is not much to say about the greatness that is the Old 97’s that hasn’t been said before (or that we all don’t already know). So, with that said, I’ll keep this short.

As to be expected, the Old 97’s put on one helluva show. Always a great live band, they played an eclectic set consisting of classic staples and new favorites. A couple of Rhett Miller solo songs and a little duet action by Murry and Rhett rounded out the show.

The House of Blues is a worthwhile addition to the Dallas nightlife scene. Larger than similar bars/nightclubs in the area, the venue still provides a cozy and hip atmosphere. I highly recommend shelling out the extra cash for the reserved balcony seating (kudos Frank!). The general admission standing-room-only area in front of the stage is fairly small; it quickly got packed, sweaty, and messy. We were so glad that we could retreat to the cooler (as in temperature) balcony where we could sit back, relax, and have the waitress bring the drinks right to our seats! Sound-wise, The HOB proves better than most intimate venues: the music was clear, even, and not deafening. I didn’t have to repeat myself to the bartender 10+ times, and after the show I wasn’t left with that horrid ringing sound in my ears.

Now, I realize that The HOB has caught a lot of heat for being a corporate venue, but it wasn’t the icky, overly commercialized, tourist trap that it has been made out to be. It still had the funky, local vibe that one would expect to find in a Dallas venue.

I encourage you to check it out the next time you are in the DFW area. Good times!

In keeping with the deal, Jill even forwarded a couple of pics she managed to snap despite the eagle-eyed HoB security team. Thanks, Jill!; though I still wish it’d been me and not you. Ah well.

Y’all also might remember that last month, the 97’s played what’s been universally described as a fantastic set at the Stagecoach Music Festival, and I got a kick out of reading the festival blogging by the correspondents at the Press-Enterprise here, here, and here. And you can check out photos of the set here. And don’t miss this musing by the Orange County Register on how well the Stagecoach Festival did or didn’t bridge the gap between traditional and new “country” acts.

In 97’s errata – and why I just ran across this now, I’m not sure – here’s a nifty interview with Ken circa Drag It Up, and this more recent chat with Rhett just before the 97’s April gig in Houston.

So here’s the deal: I bought two nice $35 reserved seats – good ones – for the inaugural gig of the Old 97’s at the new Dallas House of Blues. But once again, the airline scheduling gods have conspired to make it impossible for me to attend an event, as I’ve got to report to work in Atlanta early on Saturday.

But my loss is (potentially) your gain, as these two Ticketmaster “TicketFast” ducats come as a .pdf attachment, so whomever I e-mail them to can print them out and attend the show themselves. I read the small-print and don’t see any restrictions on giving them away to someone else, so here’s what I’m offering:

If you live in the north Texas area and can attend then show AND promise to, sometime after the show, e-mail me picture proof of you in attendance along with a brief review of both the show and the House of Blues as a venue, I’ll e-mail these tickets to you to TONIGHT.

First e-mail I get at landings DOT geo AT yahoo DOT com meeting the above requirements gets two Old 97’s tickets in response.

Good luck!

Frank
hitbyatrain.com / old97s.com

p.s. – And you may wish to print out this message if you worry about explaining to a confused doorman why you aren’t Frank Early!

p.p.s. – Thanks for all your e-mail folks, but we have a winner! Jill from Arlington, TX will be seeing the Old 97’s tomorrow, as she got the first qualifying e-mail into “Hit By A Train” headquarters just a couple of minutes after the offer was made.

Enjoy the show, Jill, and thanks to everyone for playing!

Any July 4th plans yet? Then check this from Billboard:

Willie Nelson has drafted Son Volt, Old 97’s, Drive By Truckers and Amos Lee to perform at his annual Fourth of July Picnic. The show will be held at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Wash., the first time it has taken place outside Nelson’s home state of Texas. (Damnit to hell. Old 97’s and Willie together, but it ain’t in Ft. Worth this year??? – f.e.) Tickets go on sale May 12 via Ticketmaster.

And while you sit there salivating, have a look at this piece, just in. It’s a fine new interview with the brand new papa, Murry Hammond. More soon!

Two last things: Who’s in a Dallas studio next week, laying down demos for their new album? Uh-huh.

Second, this blog has a feature by which one can post here simply by e-mailing the correct, super-secret address. I have never once used that tool though, and prefer to post by logging into Blogger instead. This morning however, I see that we were spammed, and an e-mail sent to the super-secret Hit By A Train posting address appeared, uncommanded, right here. It was removed by yours truly as soon as it was noticed, but my apologies to anyone else who happened to see it.

Greune hall baby

April 26, 2007

Greune Hall baby. It’s a return to the scene of the crime: One the greatest Old 97’s shows ever, and it was All. On. Tape. Released to the masses as Alive & Wired, that 2005 live show is perhaps the best known of any Old 97’s show yet played. And on Saturday, May 12, the Old 97’s return for only their second time ever to Texas’ oldest dance hall. Be there! Now, if the crew scheduling department at AirTran Airways has even the slightest shred of mercy left in its withered soul, I’ll be there too.

And now for something completely different: Rhett sings the “Baby Back Ribs” song, and you know what? That radio version is actually quite, quite nice. Check it out.

I read last week about how the radio oligarchs at Clear Channel have come up with an intriguing new radio format they call Lone Star Radio, which they describe as “one of a kind amalgamation of Outlaw Country, Classic Rock and Alternative Country,” featuring “Willie Nelson to ZZ Top, Stevie Ray Vaughan to the the Old 97’s to Pat Green.” Whatever one thinks of radio monoliths, you gotta admit that’s some choice company no?

Dallas, you rightly get first crack at the new the new format, which is better still all in the good hands of Texas DJ legends Bo & Jim and Redbeard, at KZPS, Lone Star 92.5 FM. Listen up.

Finally, please bow your heads for just a moment of silence, to commemorate the third annual dismissal in the first round of the playoffs, of the NHL’s Dallas Stars…

Yeah I know. But for several years now, the 97’s have supplied a lion’s share of the Stars’ AAC arena soundtrack, and so to honor the guys, the Stars had the Old 97’s in to play live during last Sunday’s first of seven with the Canucks. Reports Robert Jenkins, “The band played live during the first intermission. Played ‘Indefinitely’ and ‘Time Bomb’. The Stars gave them all sweaters (jerseys) with their names on them and all the same number (97 of course). They played from the Stars bench area.”

“It was very cool. Sad we lost.” [Both that game, and later, the deciding Game 7. – ed.]

Well at least we took it to Game 7. Unfortunately, the results were the same as last year. And the year before that.

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.

Thanks to a kind heads-up from Sarah McGoldrick at Charles Attal Presents, the talent buyer for Stubb’s, we can finally clear up the confusion: The Old 97’s will play Stubb’s on Friday, April 13. (High Road Touring originally listed the date as 3/14, so we did too.) And don’t forget, the night before, Thursday April 12, the 97’s play Meridian in Houston.

Sorry for the confusion, and stand by for another update, just as soon as I get back to Texas. Cheers!