While a SXSW recap is in the works, I wanted to slip in a round up from the second half of the most recent leg of the tour before the band hits the road again next week.
After enduring the late-winter wrath of the North, the Old 97’s headed southeast to Asheville, NC where Tim W. Jackson of The Laurel of Asheville gives a favorable review, noting that the fans were exhausted by the end of their spirited 25 song set. I don’t get the comparison when Jackson refers to Rhett as “the Jon Bon Jovi of alt-country”, but I am sure that was intended as a compliment.
Before the Atlanta show at the Buckhead Theater, Rhett interviewed with Alec Wooden from CribNotes.com. Wooden asks if the band goes on stage with a “credo” or philosophy. Rhett explains, “Whatever I have going on in my life or in my head, I try to remember that the audience made a special effort to be at the show and that they deserve me to give them something special.” Fans are always talking about how the guys go full throttle at every show, so this deliberate commitment to rock out is much appreciated. Read the interview to find out which song Rhett wishes he had written and how his songwriting challenges have changed over the years.
The Freebird Live show in Jacksonville Beach, FL was reviewed by Brian Fullford for Deemable.com. He notices the connection that the band shares with the audience. “Murry looked the part of a polite George Harrison in his stage stance along with his “Thanks everybody, I appreciate it!”… Guitarist Ken Bethea walked the stage like a prize fighter looking for the knockout punch… Drummer Philip Peeples was like the dealer at the poker table, dishing out every drum beat as if it were a card from his deck.” Fullford shares that “as someone who had never seen them live, I can tell you that with a personable front man and a band that delivers flawless straight forward rock and roll, you will not miss the arena rock pomp.” Word.
After a ten year absence in Tampa, fans flocked to see the Old 97’s play “as if their lives depended on it.” Curtis Ross of Tampa Bay Online acknowledges what we fans have been saying all along: Miller is “one of the best, underrated songwriters around, combining a poet’s eye, a romantic’s hear and a punk’s sense of humor” while fusing the “best of the British Invasion with country music’s economy.” Ross likens Ken’s skills and moves to Pete Townshend while recognizing Murry’s punk-rock prowess.
The next stop on the tour was at Tipitina’s in New Orleans. Perhaps the synergy of an Old 97’s show during Mardi Gras celebrations caused the blackout that ended the show a few songs earlier than usual, but as our webmaster Jeff details in his NoLa show report, the audience was treated to an exceptional finale when the band led the bar in a drunken revival of Amazing Grace.
The winter leg of the tour concluded at the House of Blues in Houston. Zach “Bacon” Vernon, from breakfastontour.com http://breakfastontour.com/2011/03/old-97s-those-darlins-house-of-blues/ provides an amusing recap accentuated by a ton of excellent photos by Jim “Eggs” Bricker. (You gotta love the nicknames – I mean, if you’re going to have a theme, run with it.) According to Bacon, the Old 97’s have mastered their craft with, “poppy, proficient alt-country, chockfull of memorable geetar licks and earwormy-y lyrics.” This review is a fun read and their flickr account is worth the visit, as well.
Before the band heads to Nebraska next week, we have a few more nuggets of fun to share from their SXSW/TX gigs, and Rhett tweeted that he has a fun story to share about the Drag It Up demos that are currently featured on our Media page, so come back soon.