Tag Ken Bethea

IT’S ALIVE!!! The Old 97’s laid low for a couple of months, so your webmaster did too. But now, the Old 97’s are playing again, baby! See ’em October 12th at The Granada in Dallas, on the 13th at Stubb’s in Austin, and on October 14th in beautiful Shiner, Texas, for the Shiner Bocktoberfest! Will there be more dates announced? I don’t know, maybe so.

BTW, folks on the official Old 97’s mailing list got first word last week that the 97’s would be back up and running this fall, so don’t be left out when 97’s news breaks! Sign up for the official Old 97’s mailing list by clicking here, or just sending an e-mail to: Old97s_List-subscribe AT yahoogroups.com

As for the Shiner Bocktoberfest, folks in Texas may have already heard recent radio ads featuring the Old 97’s for Shiner Beer (The Official State Beer of Texas, or at least it would be if I were in charge – f.e.). But in case you missed it, there’s also an accompanying web campaign, featuring a nifty video interview with our own Rhett Miller. I’ve seen a million of these things, but even I learned some cool stuff from this one, for example about one little-known band, The Hot Rockin’ Fonzies.

Also, on October 10th, the 97’s old label, Bloodshot releases its first-ever DVD, Bloodied But Unbowed: Bloodshot Records’ Life in the Trenches, a “collection of obscure live performances and behind-the-scenes looks at Ryan Adams, Old 97’s, Neko Case and Graham Parker among others. Many of these have never been seen outside of Bloodshot HQ.” The 97’s contribution? “Over The Cliff” at Chicago’s late, great at Lounge Axe.

And speaking of DVD’s, you may recall that in early 2005, the Old 97’s and several other great Texas bands put on a benefit concert which raised nearly $25,000 to help pay medical expenses for David Cuniff. The concert itself was later televised by Mark Cuban’s hi-def network, HDNet.

Now flash forward to this summer. Suddenly a DVD goes on sale, with Dale Earnhart Jr. on the cover, and featuring Old 97’s and O.A.R.. “Uh… whuh?” you say. Or at least that’s what I said. Turns out the Mr. Cuban’s minions sliced and diced up that concert footage, mixed it with any manner of other hi-def footage, and put it up for sale. As best we can tell, the amount from the sale of the DVD which has gone to Mr. Cuniff, or to the acts involved, is exactly $0. Thankfully, Texasgigs.com has been on this story like white on rice. Read all about it here.

Find out how one critic fell in love with the Old 97’s in this review of their “best of,” Hit By A Train. Another critic explains that, “If you’re already a fan of the Old 97’s, Hit By A Train: The Best of Old 97’s, will remind you why and it will send new fans on a mad dash to buy all of the bands previous recordings.” Another agrees, adding, “This is an eighteen song compilation, and I don’t think there is a clunker in the batch.” Amen.

Also, here’s old – though new-to-me, and great – interview with Rhett from 2004, and a recent reposting of another great interview, this one with Ken Bethea. Also, remember back in April when we mentioned how this Swiss band, The Peacocks, had covered stolen Ken Bethea’s “Timebomb” riff? Well, there are legit 97’s covers out there, one of the most fun being a jumped-up, punk-rock version of “Designs on You” from Love’s Proxy. Check it out.

I know I mentioned in the last update that we’d have more information on 97’s ringtones. And we do. Just not as much as I’d hoped. Those of you who’ve done your civic duty and purchased Hit By A Train might have noticed an insert therein which said, “Text OLD to 74466 & get Old 97’s ringtones & wallpapers.” Cool, right? Well I use Sprint. I tried it. I didn’t work for me. Hmm. However, I did run across a limited selection of Old 97’s ringtones here and here, and Rhett Miller ringtones here. More news on this as it comes in.

Finally, as frequently seems the case these past few years, the Old 97’s have been hard at work on New 97’s. On April 27th, Rhett and Erica welcomed Soleil Ahnece Miller into the world, while in January, Murry and Grey will become father and mother to their first child. So huge and heartfelt congratulations to Rhett, Erica, Murry, and Grey!

Now, I promise you won’t have to wait another eight weeks for an update, and we’ll soon have a second-of-its-kind offer to boot, so check back soon!

Now The WaPo chimes in too:

Old 97’s

Bands are often torn asunder by members who have different ideas of what the group should sound like. So far, the Old 97’s have escaped that fate, choosing instead to give equal time to guitarist and singer Rhett Miller’s gritty rock tastes and poppier instincts and bassist and singer Murry Hammond’s more countrified leanings.

At a sold-out 9:30 club Friday night, the appealingly scruffy Dallas band played a lengthy and fervent set that neatly combined the two styles into a satisfyingly organic, and at times mess-of-fun, whole. It was after midnight when the band came onstage and just before 2 a.m. when it left for the last time. In between, it sated the desire of rowdy fans that have had to wait a couple of years since the band last toured. (Miller, who recorded a solo album in 2002, has toured more recently.)

Opening with the aching “St. Ignatius,” Miller gave voice to despair, singing, “Someday when we’re older, deep in loneliness / Things we said today won’t matter, no one could care less.” That bit of darkness gave way to brasher tunes such as “Rollerskate Skinny” and such rave-ups as “King of All the World,” “Singular” and the caterwauling, punky-tonk “Doreen.” And in one of those “Aw, ain’t that nice” moments, he dedicated “Question” — a sweet song about getting engaged — to Brian and Heather, a presumably newly betrothed couple in the crowd. Hammond took lead vocals on alt-country fare including “W. TX Teardrops,” “Crash on the Barrelhead” and the exquisitely sad and lovely “Valentine.”

Despite their clearly different tastes, Miller and Hammond seem to be complements of each other. Along with drummer Philip Peeples and guitarist Ken Bethea, they produce a sturdy, impressive sound all their own. Soon the band will head to the studio to record a new album — its first since 2001’s “Satellite Rides” — and its strong songwriting along with a willingness to experiment and accommodate a variety of directions and interests almost ensures a favorable result. — Joe Heim

They’re alive! Last week, Rhett dropped and line and to say “that the projected release for the new 97’s album has been pushed back to early ’04. This is due to uncertainty about what label it will appear on, Murry and Grey’s travel schedule in October, and my son’s looming birth…”

So while it’s OK to be a bit bummed, you gotta admit there are some good causes. Also, as 2003 marks the Old 97’s 10 year anniversary as a band, there’s a decent possibility of an Anniversary show, perhaps one in Dallas around the time of the 97’s appearance at the ACL Fest. “Maybe,” says Papa Rhett, “a storytellers/acoustic type of deal.”

Then yesterday, Ken Bethea checked in on Hitchhiking with this:

hey ya’ll,

I’ve been kind of sick and not been dinking around on the web the past few weeks as much as normal. So I made it here and after reading a few posts thought I would chime in.

The Antones and of course ACL shows are confirmed. I’m 90% sure the Sons of Herman in Dallas is. It was my big idea to (since September is our 10th year anniversary WITH Philip (technically I supposed murry, rhett, Darin Wood and myself were going by The Old 97’s for the previous six months but that was more or less one long sad sound check) play instore/storyteller/unplugged/whatever you want to call it style and mainly play songs off our first two cds. We’ll talk about them and tell some tales. I think it will be fun.

The show in Dallas in early August was nice but like the poster said, very hot. I got sick after it… some kind of virus for a week. We were pretty ratty performance wise… I think we’ve kind of gotten out of practice because of the lay off. I never could make my guitar sound right. I think most likely this was just due to the time off from hearing it. I had the settings set the same as I always do.

As far as new material goes, we haven’t, as a band, worked on any. Rhett and Murry have written songs but they always write songs. So I’m not sure when we will get a chance to sit down and start playing some together. It’s tough. Rhett lives in NY now and Murry is still in Burbank. Philip and I are both here with 2 kids each. We’re sort of stuck in a way where the band has done well enough to keep it going, but we’re not rich at all so it’s kind of hard to get the time to get together and play. For one thing… Philip and I would have to round up babysitter$$$ 🙂 Not too mention Rhett is going to be a dad in November.

Anyway, I guess I’ll get some sleep. If you have any questions post them and I’ll check back here for the next week or so. If you have any special requests for the sons show post them as well but don’t expect much in the way of super obscure type songs like ray charles because frankly, we don’t really know them. We know the songs on hitchhike and wreck of course.

Hmmmm… except maybe dressing room walls. I’m not sure how we would do with that one. Been a while.

Oh yeah… totally off the subject but is anyone an electrician? I have a problem trying to install my ceiling fan.


night night…

ken bethea

As a shameless techno-geek, you had to guess that it wouldn’t take too long before Hit By A Train joined the blog (“web log”) revolution. And we have. As of today all new news posts are being made via Blogger.com. “So what?” you ask, “Who needs 15 posts a day on the relative merits of twang versus bang?” Well, no one probably. But there’s this too: For the first time since Ken Bethea turned over the keys to this website, back in 2000, the Old 97’s themselves again have instant and unfiltered access to their own home page.

So you never know, posts from a 97 might pop up here anytime. Unfortunately, blogging technology doesn’t yet allow the “Tourdates” page or the little “What’s New” pop-up window to be updated too, though in the months ahead, I’ll try to come up with some workable formatting to do just that. Still, I’ll update the show dates and “what’s new” window each time I personally update the site, and whenever I notice that one of the guys has updated the news page.

But it might be worth it to click on the “news” link when you visit HBAT, just to see of one of the guys has checked in. Let the blogging begin!

This just in from Old 97’s lead guitarist Ken Bethea:

Subject: old 97’s leno on 7-18

Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 18:35:43 -0500

From: Ken Bethea

…We just heard about 30 minutes ago we’re gonna be on Leno tomorrow night (7/18, Wednesday). We’re flying out tonight at 10:30…



ps – I think we’re going to play “Rollerskate Skinny.”

A later message from a friend at Elektra says the boys will actually be playing “Designs On You,” which would seem to make a bit more sense as “Designs” is, uhm, the single. So place your bets (“Designs vs. Rollerskate: The Smackdown!”) and get those VCR’s ready… quickly.