Archive for December, 2010

Today is December 23rd. Can you believe it? Christmas is just two short days away. If you’re like me, you’re being swallowed up by daunting holiday trappings, desperately trying to cram three days of prep into four hour days.

As a way to help assuage your anxiety over the mountain of unfinished Christmas business, the lovely folks at Daytrotter have posted five songs our collective favorite band recorded live while in Austin. And get this…they’re free to download. FREE.

Happy Christmas to us!

http://www.daytrotter.com/dt/old-97s-concert/20054412-5183.html

As an added attempt to lift your spirits during these last hectic days, I’ve also posted Rhett singing two Christmas tunes at the Philly show earlier this month thanks to fellow Wrecker, Melissa.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Da2xKsHWRns[/youtube]

From all of us here at Old97s.com, may your Holiday be filled with love, laughter and just the right amount of family you can tolerate with or without liquid medication.

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, y’all!

I know I’m late to the party with this review (life kinda gets in the way sometimes), but it’s been a week and I’m still euphoric from last Thursday’s Old 97’s shows so I thought, what the hell, might as well share some thoughts and videos.

My hubby and I always vacation in and around New York City the first week of December. As the Fates would have it, this year coincided with not one, but three Old 97’s concerts in Manhattan/Brooklyn. I love synchronicity. Synchronicity ROCKS!

As you all know by now, the band drove all night from Baltimore to the Big Apple Wednesday. Besides playing until the early hours, their presence was requested at one presser after another, including a 3am wake up call to perform all morning for Don Imus. Most bands would wilt under that kind of grueling schedule, but I’m here to tell you what we witnessed was the polar opposite.

Wednesday night was classic 97’s. Interspersed amongst old crowd favorites Won’t Be Home, Rollerskate Skinny and Big Brown Eyes, we were treated to a couple of new tunes like the lovely “Love Is What You Are”, the chugging “Please Hold On…” and even a growling version of “I’ll Cry Instead” in honor of John Lennon.

The sold out gathering was all aglow as they exited the steamy venue into the cool street.

But Thursday night’s performance was On. Its. HEAD!

From the first chord of The Grand Theatre until the long, lingering, last note of Time Bomb the energy was pegging at eleven!! Outside of Love is What You Are and Question, they never let up. EVER. Ken’s grinding guitar, Rhett’s bellowing vocals and brain-bruising head bangs, Murry’s heart-thumping bass, Philip’s signature cadence… we were puddy in their hands. They played the audience to perfection, whipping us into a whisky-soaked, sing-along frenzy. The packed house willingly filled in the vocals for Barrier Reef, Big Brown Eyes, Stoned as well as Rhett’s acoustic set of Niteclub and Our Love. Seriously, how cool is it to step away from the mic and listen to hundreds of people sing your words back to you unprompted?

They all looked like they were having a blast chatting to each other on stage, Ken and Murry playing with the crowd as well as each other.

Several times Ken perched precariously at the end of the stage, teasing the audience while his telecaster sizzled.

But Dude. The set closing “If My Heart Was a Car”…

Holy Mary, Mother of God!

It was completely off the charts INSANE! I’ve never seen this live before. It started off slowly with Ken literally sitting on the edge of the monitor plucking the opening, then it just exploded with a balls-to-the-wall energy generally reserved for Time Bomb. Each of them went crazy in their own individual way. Like a priest at High Mass, Rhett anointed the front row with Rhett-sweat cast from his fevered head bobs. This was Rock ‘n Roll, Baby!!

All of that and they STILL put in a high octane performance of Time Bomb. Aaaa Time Bomb. The first chord strike of that song is always bittersweet for me. I love it because they all play it with such abandon, squeezing every bit of energy they have left into that song, but it signifies the end of the evening and I’m never ready to say goodnight. Like an insatiable child, I want to stand up and say “Do it again!”

If this is how they play after walking through the Valley of Exhaustion, clearly sleep deprivation works for them.

Initially I was bummed not to be able to go to Brooklyn for day three of Old 97’s Take Manhattan, but after Thursday’s incredible show I was satisfied. I couldn’t imagine how they could have topped that one.

There were so many incredible moments that evening. I wish I would have recorded more, but honestly I just wanted to drink it all in and sing at the top of my lungs. And really, isn’t that what’s it’s all about.

Get ready West Coasters. Your world’s about to get rocked.

Anyone going to the KGSR show in Austin this Friday has a chance to win a t-shirt via Gowalla. Details courtesy Cindy Royal:

Here’s another chance to win on Gowalla with Old 97’s, this time in
Austin. This Friday, the Old 97’s headline the KGSR 20th Anniversary
Party at the Texas Union Ballroom. Joining the 97’s are Quiet Company,
Alpha Rev and Joe Ely, making for a pretty awesome holiday gathering. If
you were lucky enough to win tickets (see kgsr.com), then be sure to
check in with Gowalla and upload pictures at the show, because your luck
could continue. Upload photos on Gowalla, and you could win an Old 97’s
t-shirt. And EVERYONE who uploads a photo will get a download link for a very special exclusive MP3!

If you’re not on Gowalla, it’s easy to join:

1. Download the Gowalla app for your smartphone. It’s available on
iPhone (featuring brand new Version 3), Android and many other services.

2. Set up a login and password.

3. When you’re at the KGSR show on Friday, Dec. 17, look for the special
Old 97′s event spot and check in. You can also choose to broadcast your
check-in to other social networking sites like Twitter or Facebook.
After you check in, be sure to also upload photos because that’s how you open the MP3 link and get a chance to win the t-shirt. And you can make comments and see which other fans have checked in at the show. It’s a fun way to share the Old 97′s concert experience!

Austin band Quiet Company will also be selecting one lucky winner of a
T-shirt from the photos of them posted on Gowalla and will provide a
FREE download of their Christmas EP to everyone who checks in at the show.

Not going to be at the show? You’re still in luck. You can follow the
action by visiting the Gowalla event spot during or after the show to
see the check-ins and enjoy the photos and comments.

Old 97’s at KGSR 20th Anniversary Party with Quiet Company, Alpha Rev &
Joe Ely http://gowalla.com/spots/6582340

Congrats to winners Josyln Hansen and Andrew Lum for completing the Old
97’s Take Manhattan trip on Gowalla last week!

Amidst the exhausting late night performances and pre-dawn pressers last week, something special happened on this leg of the tour. Long time Old 97’s merchandise man, Mario Perez took the love of his life’s hand and walked her through the bitter New York cold to a quiet, picturesque spot in Central Park. There with his foggy, sleep-deprived head cleared by the crisp air, he dropped to one knee, looked into Laurie Lomas’ beautiful brown eyes and asked her to grow old with him.

She said yes.

We couldn’t be happier for them! Their nuptials are set for next year. So next time you mosey past the merch table, don’t forget to congratulate Mario on his good fortune in finding a woman as lovely as Laurie to be his bride.

Congratulations and the very best to you and Laurie always!!


Old 97’s, New Fans.

December 13, 2010

After nine shows in ten nights, the guys have wrapped up the first leg of their tour. Judging from the setlists and discussions on the Old 97’s forum, they did not disappoint. But maybe we, the faithful fans, are a little biased? For some fresh perspective, I decided to introduce two of my friends, 97’s-virgins, to the band.

I was lucky to go to two shows this week, the first at The Recher Theatre in Towson, MD and then the Saturday night show at the Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia, PA. A few days before Towson, I offered a ticket to my friend Danielle. She was not familiar with them, but she thought it would be fun to go anyway.  That was just what this music pusher wanted to hear. The next morning, I made her a copy of “Intro to Old 97’s”, a playlist saved in my music library for emergency rock indoctrinations.

Before the show, Danielle and I met with Rhett, Ken, and some of their friends. Rhett was working on the setlist and debating whether he should cross “Let The Whiskey Take The Reins” off to make room for “Love Is What You Are.” Without the crippling adoration of a long-time fan, Danielle piped up without hesitation to say, “No! I know I just heard your music for the first time two days ago, but that is a really good song.” Yes, it is and thankfully, both songs remained on the list. As beautiful as Love Is What You Are is on the album, hearing it live was captivating and magical.

During the show, I could tell that Danielle took the time to listen to her Intro because she was singing along to some of the choruses and remembered details from the info sheet that I included with the CD. (“This is on Satellite Rides?” “Oh, this is the cat song, right?” ) The music made enough of an impression for her to want to get to know them more and the show sealed the fandom deal. The next day, Danielle posted some Old 97’s songs on her Facebook page to share them with everyone in her virtual world. A new fan was born on December 7th at The Recher Theatre. Danielle was as excited as I was to learn that the guys will return to the area in April with a show at the 9:30 Club.

Four nights after the Towson show, I drove to the ‘burbs of Philly to visit Angie, my high school partner-in-crime. After years of hearing me rave about the band, she finally agreed to see them with me. I mailed her the same Intro mix that I gave to Danielle. It’s almost cute how I thought that a mix CD could have prepared her for the epic event that was the TLA show. Front and center, we were both blown away by the singing, screaming voices of a sold out crowd echoing Rhett’s raspy vocals. After 8 straight gigs and several early morning shows, he was starting to lose his voice, and all of the guys had to have been exhausted by this point, but nothing can stop them from giving their all on the stage. In fact, we were treated to a bonus song in the encore when the Phillyphreaks, as Rhett affectionately named them on Twitter, demanded to hear Wish The Worst. They closed the night with The Rolling Stones’ Rocks Off from their Mimeograph EP, Dance With Me, and of course, Timebomb. It came as no surprise that Angie’s world was rocked by the Old 97’s.

Now that this week has passed, and I have to wait four months for my next Old 97’s fix, I’m happy to know that the community on the forum will tide us all over until that next show. There are some great discussions going on with fun details about everyone’s experiences at the shows. At The Recher Theatre last week, I met MsSemicolon who is not a new fan, but was attending her first Old 97’s show. She wrote a fantastic review on the forum which can be viewed here. Even though I was standing next to her throughout the show, it was very cool to relive the experience of witnessing the band live for the first time.

After a couple of holiday gigs, they’ll hit the road again in January, so get ready left coasters. We cannot wait to hear from all you as the tour rolls on…

Old 97’s on the Steve Earle Show

SIRIUS XM Outlaw Country (Sirius 63, XM 12)

“I’m living in a state of Texas and Texas lives in me,” sings Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller on the band’s eighth studio album, The Grand Theatre Vol. 1, which was recorded in the Lone Star State. Miller and his bandmates Murry Hammond, Ken Bethea, and Phillip Peebles perform songs from the new album in the SIRIUS XM studios in NYC and talk with Steve Earle about their shared Texas heritage and more on this special episode of the “Steve Earle Show: Hardcore Troubadour Radio.”

On-Air Time: Saturday, December 18 9 pm ET

Duration: one hour

Rebroadcast: Sunday, December 19 9 am ET; Monday, December 20 7 pm ET and Wednesday, December 22 11 pm ET

Okay, so our favorite fellas are playing the penultimate show (Thank you Mr. Miller for the vocabulary lesson) for this leg of their tour in support of TGT, Vol 1 tonight in Brooklyn, New York. Not only did Philip share his helpful OCD packing tips on Rhett’s video diary, he was sport enough to answer our little touring questionnaire. Let’s see what the greatest drummer to ever come out of the great State of Texas has to share, shall we.

1. The energy and intensity of TGTV1 has been compared to Too Far To Care. Thirteen years down the road, how does touring life now stack up to the touring life from the TFTC era–Still a rowdy, whiskey-soaked frat bus or more of a quiet, herbal-tea-drinking Christian Science Reading Room?

Touring life is much better now than then, for many reasons. No more or less rowdy than TFTC era, although we did spend a night in Iowa back then on I-80 at a truck stop in a blizzard surrounded by idling 18-wheelers. We nearly froze to death if not for running the heater periodically and discovering an unopened bottle of Dewars Murry lifted from Delila’s a week earlier. Nowadays we only have to worry that the bus has a clear signal from the satellite.

2. I overpack for weekends away let alone a two-month trek. How in the world do you pack enough clothes for that long an absence? Seriously, who owns that many pairs of gutchies*? How do you deal with the laundry issue?

The “laundry issue” can be a bit of a whip while touring. Just finding the time is the biggest obstacle. So to combat the difficulty, I pack enough socks and undies for a week, a plethora of t-shirts, 2-4 pair of jeans, 5-7 button down gig shirts and, depending on the weather, coat and/or hat.

3. Speaking of gutchies: Boxers, Briefs or Commando?

Boxers. Anything else would be immature or uncivilized.

4. What are three things you absolutely must have with you on tour?

Cell phone, iPod, and pictures of my family.

5. You can’t have four guys living on a bus together for weeks without some kind of hijinx. Are you the prankster or the punk’d? What are some of the best pranks ever pulled on you, by you, in general?

We’re pretty lame when it comes to shenanigans. However, while on tour with Chris Isaak, his drummer Kenny put cheese slices in my stick bag. Fortunately, I found them later that day, before they had a chance to get funky.

6. In Juliana Hatfield’s autobiography, she talks at length about the horrors of backstage dressing rooms: the ubiquitous mystery-stained furniture, horrifying toilets, membrane-melting odors. At this point in your career, you’ve played in just about every club in America. Surely you’ve experienced some hellish environs. Can you share with us the best of the absolute worst in dressing rooms or clubs?

Most every dressing room sucks, worse than you can begin to imagine, so I prefer to forget about them as soon as we’re done with them. Some clubs go out of their way to spruce them up (newer sofa, clean refrigerator, a bathroom that actually gets cleaned) but House of Blues is the king of caring for bands in that regard. They even have dressing room attendants for crissakes!!!

7. Riders. What are some of your must-haves? Have you ever thrown in a completely ridiculous demand, ala Van Halen’s green M&M’s only clause just to see if the owner has read it? If not, please do and entertain us with how that goes.

No completely ridiculous demands (in my opinion) but we do rely heavily on it to provide a sense of “home” (cereal, milk, bread, peanut butter, etc). Maybe we’ll post the rider someday, but it’s really not very exciting, unless our tour manager Mike Dalke sneaks in a hilarious request, like monkey butlers.

8. Regarding chicken and women, leg or breast man?

YES to all the above.

9. Which cities are givens on your touring schedule and why? Any place you haven’t ventured that’s on your wish list?

Given cities are: Dallas, Austin, Chicago, Seattle, NYC, Philly, St Louis, LA and Minneapolis.

10. What are some of the craziest things to have happened on tour, either on or off stage?

Showing up for a gig in Memphis and finding an abandoned club, completely trashed the night before from a show by The Grifters. We were late due to snow and ice and the room was just trashed, bottles and cans scattered EVERYWHERE and two cash register drawers full of greenbacks still sitting out on the bar! The owner finally showed and told us “we’re closed tonight – huge snow storm bearing down” (this is also an effective method for club owners to back out of a contract that they fear will be a money loser). We argued until he gave us a case of Budweiser, then we found a nearby hotel back in Arkansas, spent a chilly night 4-up in a tiny cheap room, and drove to St Louis the next morning..

11. Okay, so who’s the one most likely to funk up the bus?

The eldest member of the band – just like grandpa!

12. All of you are married with young children. It’s got to be very difficult to leave them for an extended period of time. Is there anything special you always do with the kids before you set sail?

Days/hours of hugs and kisses.

13. Come on. You’re a Texan. Fess up. How many cowboy hats and boots do you own?

Zero. Only ever owned one pair of boots as a kid, and the only cowboy hat I’ve ever owned was part of a Halloween costume. And I’m a 2nd generation Texan.

14. Let’s say you accidentally knock over your on-stage drink when you’re kicking it up during a particularly energetic part of the set. A sad, sad sight indeed. What beverage might one purchase to replenish your toppled glass?

Ice cold bottled beer.

15. Is there anything you miss about the lean years traveling in a broke-down van?

Very, very little, other than abundant physical energy and the naive belief that anything is possible.

16. Your fans will agree nothing beats cranking Old 97’s songs on long road trips. What are your favorite touring tunes to make the miles motor along?

I have a wildly diverse collection of music so saying there are some “favorites” is difficult for me, although lately, I’ve been listening to Fleet Foxes, Arcade Fire and The Dodos a lot.

17. And finally, Dude, are you stoked? The McRib is back!

Stoked only that it will be gone again soon. And they should just call it what it really is: “McBologna”…

Got it. Ice cold bottled beer, hold the McRib…far away, preferably in another dimension. Kudos to Philip for having the cajones to pony up a concrete answer to question #11. And boy, who wouldn’t want to see a monkey butler or two wreaking havoc backstage. Am I right? Thanks again, Philip!

And then there was one… I’m looking at you Mr. Bethea. 🙂