Tag Alive Wired

The “Pavarotti of the Plains,” Don Walser passed away today. The Austin American-Statesman said, “Walser’s musical mission was to expose the country music of his youth to new audiences. Opening for such acts as the Butthole Surfers and Ministry, Walser introduced such old Western classics as ‘Tumbling Tumbleweeds’ and ‘Cherokee Maiden’ to a whole new audience, one that often jubilantly moshed to his songs…”

Closer to home, Mr. Walser also sang that high lonesome yodel on the Old 97’s “Old Familiar Steam,” and the band, in a way, returned the favor last year at Greune Hall, when they covered Don’s signature tune, “Rolling Stone From Texas,” during the concerts that were recorded for Alive & Wired. He was a great guy, a fine musician, and a Texas original. R.I.P..

Get yer new Rhett dates here, and yer new Old 97’s pictures here! And hey you! Yeah you, Chi Cheng of the Deftones. The Old 97’s are cool. Glad you’re listening though.

Rhett was in the England last week, promoting The Believer‘s UK release on Wrasse Records. Wrote Rhett: “I just appeared on Phil Jupitus’ show on BBC6. Very funny guy. We talked about The Wedding Present for about a half an hour. Must have made for riveting radio.” Of course Rhett sprung the news on his MySpace blog on the afternoon of the 11th, after he was already there and just before his one British appearance, an in-store at one of London’s Fopp Music locations. Rhett, say something before you go next time!

Speaking of, I did hear from Philip the other day, who sprung the news that Murry and Grey… Well, it’s a boy. Or will be, come January. Right now he’s a sonogram with a very distinct visual signature, if you know what I mean. So send them baby-shower jammies in baby-blue, kids! Also, you’ve still got one more chance to catch Philip with I Love Math this month, on September 27 at Dallas Club Dada. I’m telling you, these guys are terrific. Catch ’em if you can! They’ve also got their sophomore album in the can, and we’ll have details here when it hits the shelves.

Finally, I mentioned last time that we’d have a “second of its kind” offer during this update. And we do. See, years ago, Hit By A Train, a.k.a, this web site, had part-time contributors, who’d write in with various postings, news, reviews, and the like. Well I still get many of the tips and news for the site via e-mailed suggestions, so I’d like to try that idea again. Are you up for the challenge? I’m not talking about rants or hyped-up plugs, as I can keep doing those myself 😉 Instead I’m looking for Old 97’s items that are fresh, insightful, smart, and on-topic. If you’ve got one, or more, send them here: landings DOT geo AT yahoo DOT com. I’ll post the good ones, with full credit to you. And if it turns out in time that we’re in synch about what ought to be posted here, you’ll be in line get the keys to the kingdom: The magic username and password to post updates directly to Hit By A Train and old97s.com, and credit as a co-editor of the site.

I’m not bailing out. Far from it. But I have heard the desires of some visitors for more frequent updates, and man, this is about the Old 97’s, so I am all over that idea. Furthermore, the site design has been the same since about the time Drag It Up dropped, so sometime in the next few months, I’d say it’s also about time for a nip and tuck. I gave over the last two site redesigns to professionals, because that’s what it deserves, but it’s time to ask again: Are you an html pro, with a background in website design and interested in lending a hand with updating or a redesign of old97s.com? If so, I’d like to hear from you, so drop a line to the address shown above.

We’ll have more Old 97’s news when it happens. Until then, I’ll see y’all at the Granada on the 12th. Cheers!

Howdy kids! Well wouldn’t you know it, the airline bidness finally released your webmaster from the suffocating death-grip of training, so next time I go to work (Wednesday! Wednesday! Wednesday! Danger!) it’ll be at the controls of a real live aircraft, for the first time since September 28. So should you be taking a trip thusly, stick your head up in the cockpit and say “hi.” But please don’t try that while in flight. You know.

So Old 97’s… what the heck are the guys up to? Ken, for one, is taking the stage, but this time he sure ain’t strapping on a Telecaster. I’ll let him tell you:

Hey for you guys in Dallas, I’m in a play that opens the weekend of the 26th in Garland at the Garland Arts Center (next the the Dart Station in Downtown).

The show is “The Philadelphia Story”, which was a an old screwball comedy from 1940 I believe. I play a small role, Thomas the butler (“Is there anything else, Madame?”) but it’s the first non-musical role I’ve had in a show since I was a junior in high school so it’s what I wanted.

All the information about when the show runs is on the website I believe. If you guys get a chance, check it out…

Unfortunately, that’s all I have on stage until maybe summer or fall. With Rhett’s cd coming out and his new baby, (his wife is pregnant, you guys probably know), 2006 will be tough on the 97’s getting to do any tours. 🙁

I guess that’s life in the slow lane though.

You guys be safe,


Rhett on the other hand, takes the stage on March 17 at Austin’s annual South By Southwest Festival, at 8pm at Eternal. Expect that date to be just one of many on Rhett’s tour to support The Believer, which drops into stores on February 28. And speaking of… Rhett has a copy of one of his cuts off The Believer “Brand New Way” up on his MySpace page. Take a listen! The full track listing looks like this:

1. My Valentine
2. Help Me, Suzanne
3. Meteor Shower
4. Brand New Way
5. Ain’t That Strange
6. I Believe She’s Lying
7. Fireflies
8. Singular Girl
9. I’m With Her
10. Delicate
11. The Believer
12. Question

Blender says it’s chock-a-block with “knock ’em dead songs,” and Esquire names it their record of the month, saying: “After more than a decade of strum and twang with Dallas’s alt-country pioneering Old 97’s, Rhett Miller is releasing as his second solo album a heaping mound of creamy pop confection, albeit a twisted sort in which the title track wrestles with Elliott Smith’s suicide and the album credits throw shout-outs to Albert Camus, David Cross, Owen Wilson, and Kurt Vonnegut. And those aren’t exactly random muses: The Believer is literate, funny, sexy, and geekishly scientific. (At one point, a fatal attraction is actually blamed on plate tectonics.) [It] is all of those things and still eminently listenable…”

You gotta guess it’s going to be great, and before we leave the topic, Rolling Stone’s has a sneak peak too. Check it out.

After much refurbishing and remodeling, Murry and Grey recently got their bed & breakfast, Bayou Amulet House, built in 1853, up and running in Natchitoches, Louisiana. As soon as Murry forwards a better link, I’ll get that posted. In the meantime, send your good thoughts his way, and take it from someone who knows: Owning an old home is God’s way of telling you that you’ve got too much free time and disposable income.

Let’s back up a sec and talk more Blender, as I see that a couple of months back, they named the Old 97’s “Murder (Or A Heart Attack)” as one of the Top 500 Songs Since You Were Born. Their stub reads, “Girl sneaks out window, boy searches for her and leaves door open in case girl wants to return. Boy realizes girl, on return, might kill him.” Is that what the song said? Hmmm. So would you like to contribute to the world of Old 97’s knowledge? Good, because now’s your chance. A few enterprising souls with exceptional musical taste have ginned up the makings of an Old 97’s page at Wikipedia.

And didja catch those New Years Eve-ish shows from the Old 97’s? I did, and so did writers at both Dallas and Austin papers. Anyone there had to know in their bones that, even as a live disc, A&W made more than a few year-end “best of” lists!

Here’s another:

The Old 97’s would be playing amped-up roots music even if nobody had decided to create a genre around it. It’s what this band of miscreants, led by songwriter Rhett Miller, has been doing well since 1993.

The band has released some splendid studio music, but its reputation and legend revolve around its wondrously ramshackle, high-energy live shows. As such, Alive & Wired – the band’s two-disc, 30-song live set – is an album long overdue.

Live, the Old 97’s are the cow-punk equivalent of The Replacements – delightfully sloppy, probably drunk, dripping sweat, basking in the stench-and-stains that accompany detonating barroom bunkhouse rock ‘n’ roll. The sound is as uneven as the performances – and, in this case, that’s a good thing. The songs are fine ‘n’ dandy, but it’s the exuberance and passion of the performances, recorded over two nights in a sweltering Texas club – that make this set something special.

It may not be pretty, but it’s real. Alive & Wired is the sound of truth. All that remains is to see if the world can handle the truth.

So you say you missed the 97’s NYE shows? Well now you know you missed great, great gigs. For your penance go a listen to Alive & Wired again. Now go and sin no more. For now.