Archive for 2009

4 nights 96 songs

December 31, 2009

Well, the boys’ four-night stand at Sons of Hermann Hall is in the books — and in the can, as the entire shindig was recorded. Cross your fingers that it will see the light of day. I was only able to attend night two, but I can attest that they were on fire, and the rarities just added to the fun.

You can read a couple of good reviews at The Dallas Observer and at Pegasus News.

And for your reading pleasure, here are the setlists from all four nights:

Bird in a Cage
Streets of Where I’m From
My Two Feet
Crash on the Barrelhead
You Belong To My Heart
The New Kid
Barrier Reef
Friends Forever
Old Familiar Steam
Busted Afternoon
I Will Remain
Iron Road
King of the World
Miss Molly
The Easy Way
Champaign, Illinois – Ranchero Brothers
Harold’s Super Service – Ranchero Brothers
Bel Air
Curtain Calls

Here’s to the Halcyon
Let the Train Blow the Whistle
Murder (or a Heart Attack)
If My Heart Was a Car
Alone So Far
She Loves the Sunset
Buick City Complex
Can’t Get a Line
St. Ignatius
Am I Too Late
Big Brown Eyes
Daybed – Ranchero Brothers
In the Satellite Rides a Star – Ranchero Brothers
Five Years (David Bowie cover)
Dressing Room Walls

The Fool
Just Like California
Book of Poems
Making Love to You
W. TX Teardrops
Dancing With Tears in My Eyes
Lonely Holiday
Early Morning
Melt Show
Valium Waltz
The Other Shoe
Let the Idiot Speak
Color of a Lonely Heart Is Blue
Designs on You
The One
Four Leaf Clover
Sweet Thing Pine Bluff – Ranchero Brothers
Lost at Sea – Ranchero Brothers
Tupelo County Jail (Webb Pierce cover)

Won’t Be Home
Dance With Me
Over the Cliff
Up the Devil’s Pay
Desperate Times
The Villain
What We Talk About
Eyes For You
Wish the Worst
No Baby I
What I Wouldn’t Do
Blinding Sheets of Rain
The House That Used To Be
Drowning in the Days
Rollerskate Skinny
Visiting hours – Ranchero Brothers
Mama Tried – Ranchero Brothers
Goin’, Goin’ Gone
Nervous Guy
Cryin’ Drunk

That, my friends, was one for the ages.


There is a new merch store for Old 97’s. There are some of your old favorites and new t-shirts. There will be more product coming soon. Old97’ is going to be run by a new company. The old one wasnt keeping up with tour dates and the store had some problems. The new site should be better and up and running soon.


Welcome to our first attempt to share some live shows with the unwashed masses. If this works, I’ll add more shows over the coming weeks.

This is an interesting CD. Labeled Ranchero Brothers, 5-7-99, Viper Club. It’s a recent acquisition for me, found through Twitter and the generous @Pens7M. I believe it refers to the infamous Viper Room in West Hollywood, CA. Anecdotally, a search of Wrecked (the belovedly random Yahoo group) leads me to believe the boys played before a ’70s disco revival band named “Boogie Knights” that was in residency on Friday nights at the time. Maybe that’s why the crowd chats a little more than one would like.

However, the Ranchero portion of the show ends with Big Brown Eyes at track 13. After that, it’s a full-on Old 97’s show. Seven tracks of classic awesome, all pre-TFTC songs. I would love to know when/where that was recorded, and I’d love to have the rest of that show. I don’t normally like to mix 2 shows on a single CD, but this stuff was too good to leave off.

Some technical details: the link should start a download of a ZIP file from my shared Dropbox folder. Unzip it and you’ll have every track in FLAC format. If you don’t know what any of that is, this is going to be very hard for you. But Google is your friend, and you should be able to find the free apps you need to decode them. I’ll never share a live boot in MP3 format, it’s against the bootlegger creed and I’ll not anger that randy bunch.



Look’s like everyone was excited about Jefe idea for a Ranchero Brothers album. And Dallas is about to finally get the “An Evening with Old 97’s” shows at Hermann Hall. Dr David is back with some goodies for us. He video taped some solo performances of Rhett and Murry and will post a new video clip each week until the show. Including a Ranchero Brothers version of Timebomb. This week we have Murry singing Lost At Sea. Enjoy!

~ michael

Wither ranchero

November 20, 2009

As you’ve probably heard by now, the boys are going in the studio early next year to record the follow-up to Blame It On Gravity, and we the fans couldn’t be more thrilled.

Or could we?

Any new material from the Old 97’s is cause for celebration. After all, we’re about to finish a decade that only saw three albums of new material released by the band as a whole. I’m as pleased as anyone that they’ve chosen to bring Salim Nourallah back to produce, and I’m sure the finished product will offer all the quality sonic thrills we love them for. Sign me up for the pre-order right now.

But anytime the band gets together in the studio, one specific footnote from their long and storied history comes to mind. A missed opportunity, if you will, of massive proportions.

I’m speaking, of course, of the long-lost and seemingly forgotten Ranchero Brothers album.

A brief recap for the new folks on the bandwagon: back in the day, Murry and Rhett sometimes performed as an acoustic duo called the Ranchero Brothers. They did lots of Old 97’s “covers” and may unique songs as well. Just an acoustic rhythm guitar, acoustic bass, and the beautiful harmonies of Rhett and Murry.

As this side project grew in popularity, they decided to record an album, and did so in Dallas in 2001 or so. A handful of tracks from this recording have circulated on bootlegs, but most of them are stuck in a crashed hard drive (or were the last I heard of it). Murry wasn’t thrilled with the sound of the recordings anyway, and wanted to re-record it in his home studio of vintage sound equipment. However, somewhere around the time The Instigator came out, the project became a much lower priority. Many songs that were recorded for the Ranchero album were re-recorded with the full band for 2004’s Drag It Up — “Valium Waltz,” “Blinding Sheets of Rain,” “In The Satellite Rides a Star” and what would have surely been the centerpiece of the album, “Won’t Be Home No More.”

And that’s where it stands today. A few more of the Ranchero songs have come out in various forms. The whole band recorded a cover of Robbie Fulks’ “I’d Be Lonesome” for a compilation. “My Two Feet” took the chorus from “Goin’ on Down the Mountain.” Murry put “Lost at Sea” on his solo album.

Yet I find myself unable to let it go. I know in my heart that a complete Ranchero Brothers album would be a timeless work of art that would bring joy to millions. Or at least thousands. Thousands of people with really good taste in music.

So please allow me to address a few of the arguments that might be proposed against the idea.

• We wouldn’t want a Ranchero Brothers album to compete with a new Old 97’s album. Well, here’s the thing. With a fan base as rabid and loyal as this one, it’s just not an issue. As I stated above, we’re wrapping up a decade with just three albums of new Old 97’s material. I feel certain most of us would have happily paid for triple that.

• What about the record label and distribution and blah blah.
I’m certainly no expert on record label contracts and whatnot, but come on. This is 2009. Labels are practically obsolete. There’s this thing called the internet. You’re on it right now. And people have found numerous ways to share an distribute music on it. Some of them have even made money doing so. Throw a couple of tracks up as free teaser downloads, offer lossless digital versions for purchase, and create some nifty collector’s packages with CDs and t-shirts and vinyl and all that. Hello, profit! Hello, happy fans! Win-win.

• Too many of the songs have already been released in other forms. Simple answer to this one… SO WHAT. We’re fans. We just love the music. We download live shows and trade bootlegs. I personally own around 15 solo acoustic Rhett shows, and all of these versions of the songs in no way diminish my love for the studio versions. It’s just another way to enjoy the beauty of what’s been created. Demos, outtakes, alternate versions — fans LOVE these things, and they’ve been too hard to find for too long. Hell, Dwight Yoakam put out a solo acoustic album that was pretty much a greatest hits set, and it was amazing. And not once did I stop and think HEY! That song was on another album! RIPOFF!

• What about Ken and Phillip? Great idea! Do a couple of tracks with them on there, too! Phillip would have fun on stripped down kit, and who wouldn’t want to hear what Ken could do on an acoustic guitar? That would be awesome. Did anyone get Jeff Tweedy’s Sunken Treasure solo acoustic stuff? There were several tracks where a couple of band members sat in, too. And it worked.

• There’s no time. Well, you’re going in the studio early next year… maybe you could fit it in then. Just a thought.

My fear is that Rhett and Murry see the Ranchero Brothers album as an idea whose time has passed. Lord knows I could be wrong. But if that’s the case, the only thing that will change their minds is an outcry from the fans. They do so try to keep us happy. So please, if you’d like to see this idea become a reality, say so in the comments section. FLOOD the comments section with encouragement and we’ll see to it that the boys know about it. In return, I’ll throw you a little bone right here. Enjoy it, and dream for moment about how magic an entire album like that could be.



Happy holidays yall

October 14, 2009

This just in from the Dallas Observer:

Longtime favorite local alt-country outfit the Old 97’s has been booked to play four consecutive nights at the [Sons of Hermann Hall] from December 27 through December 30. Like this past summer’s tour from the band (although not the case here in Dallas), all four nights will be presented as an “An Evening With…” affair, with Murry Hammond and Rhett Miller both performing opening solo sets each night before 97’s take the stage.

So now do you believe in Santa Claus? – frank

Bloodshot records is releasing “Wreck Your Life and Then Some: The Complete Bloodshot Recordings” on November 17. This is a double LP with a limit of 1000 copies. It includes the full length Wreck Your Life, 7″ singles, and compilation tracks. Pre-order now!

If that wasn’t exciting enough, there should be a new cd release from the boys next year.

And finally the covers cd should be out early next year. No release date yet.


Bits pieces

September 15, 2009

Hi everybody: I’m not dead! Just overwhelmed with work, union, and family at the moment. Unfortunately, I don’t see much letup either until next Spring. But I do have a grab-bag of Old 97’s goodies today, first up a nice new interview of Murry and Rhett the folks at, another with Rhett from CNN (hat tip: Sean Martin), and some great photos of the guys’ recent Ft. Worth gig at the hoidy-toidy Bass Hall from Clay Billman. Thanks Clay! Meanwhile the Dallas Observer kicks in a fine slideshow of the 97’s kicking off the inaugural gig at Dallas’ new Hard Rock Cafe a few weeks back.

Murry himself forwards a link to a classic, November 1982, Texas Monthly article on the burgeoning punk-rock ‘zine scene in Texas, featuring “Most Likely To Suceed” Boyd High School athlete, and punk-teen ‘zine impresario, one Murry Hammond. In all immodesty, I did point out to Murry that I beat him into Texas Monthly by over a year, as illustrated here. That’s yours truly in glorious black & white on the cover page of the piece, back when I was defending Bryan-College Station against the encroaching march of godless communism. While we won the Cold War on the Brazos, IIRC, we lost to U of H that day, 10-7. (Bonus joke: Why did the orphan pray to be adopted an Aggie? Because Aggies never beat anyone.)

Also, while watching previews before “District 9” a couple of weeks back, I noticed “Timebomb” prominently featured in the soundtrack for the upcoming Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis, and Justin Long comedy, Youth In Revolt. Check it out then take this pop quiz: How many feature films how now featured that Old 97’s classic?

Finally, again with thanks to Sean Martin, here’s a link to a great boot of the tribute to the then-recently departed Johnny Cash, in which the 97’s stole the show, from the 2003 ACL Fest in Austin. I was there, and lemme tell you, they kicked about a hundred miles of ass.

I’ve got more stuff, but no more time, as I’m off in a couple of hours for some R&R in Europe. So until next time, Cheers. y’all! – frank

Rhett in europe

September 11, 2009

I thought I’d posted this already, but I guess not. Check this link for info on Rhett’s upcoming European tour with none other than Steve Earle. Here’s hoping they get some downtime to collaborate on some songwriting together!