Howdy kids! You got your calendars out? Good, ’cause we need to mark up the month of September. First, at long last, and after what? …eleven or twelve years in the making, on September 20, the Old 97’s release their first live album, a double CD titled Old 97’s – Alive and Wired. How about this track listing?

Whadya think of THAT? I thought so. Says Ken Bethea:

We tracked 55 and I think we’re releasing 31. Of the remaining 24 most where duplicates just to make sure we got nice versions of “Timebomb”, etc. The only really good one we left off was “Victoria” but that’s because we didn’t get a great version and it’s on that sampler that came out with Satellite Rides

And how would you feel about maybe spending your Labor Day on in the hell-raising home of live country music in the Great State of Texas? Because on September 2 in Fort Worth, the Old 97’s make their debut performance on the stage of Texas biggest honky-tonk Billy Bob’s Texas. As an aside, during my years at Texas A&M the only good barroom brawl I ever managed to get involved in was between a bunch of fellow Aggies and some similarly inebriated students from TCU at Billy Bob’s back on one crisp September night in the 80’s. It was mainly just a bunch of puffed-out chests, name-calling, and a few wild punches and beer bottles sailing harmlessly through night air. Harmless, really. This rowdy trip to Billy Bobs promises to be a heck of a lot more fun and far less dangerous. Be there!

The very next day, September 3, the 97’s play outdoors in Nacogdoches, Texas at the Red River Radio Americana Music Festival. Then on September 4, The West Texas Teardrops, a.k.a. Ken, Murry, and Philip, play their sophomore gig at Dallas’ Barley House, on a double bill with I Love Math, which features members of the Deathray Davies, and our own Philip Peeples on drums. If you caught the show or read the reviews of The Teardrops’ first show, back at SXSW, you know you don’t want to miss this.

Rhett has also announced a number of upcoming solo shows including one on September 7 at Dallas’ Bend Studio. Folks who made his last show at Bend reported a stellar, smoke-free atmosphere that was matched by an even better performance. And don’t forget that Rhett will more than likely be rolling out many of the numbers off his upcoming third solo album. Catch these shows if you can! And remember in the last update, we mentioned that Rhett will be contributing “Girl” to an upcoming Rubber Soul tribute? Well now we’ve got more details, and krikey, that’s also shaping up to be another great project.

Murry’s also been out solo, generally in support of his lovely and talented missus, Grey DeLisle, and her new album, Iron Flowers. And boy oh boy, is Grey ever getting some great buzz for her take on Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” On top of that, Grey may well be the hardest working woman in show-business, certainly in animated show-business, as Congress has apparently passed a law making it official: Grey DeLisle now supplies the voice for every single animated female character on TV.

Now let’s get our video on, shall we? Time after time, I keep posting these links to the personal page of überfan, Dr. David Welsh (“I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy,” thinks the webmaster as he types those words), wherein the good Doctor posts various and sundry live and rare Old 97’s video clips. Well he’s at it again with several new ones up on his site. I don’t believe our bandwidth demands have yet been enough to crash his site, so why doncha just head on over and take a peek? It won’t hurt nothin’, and you’ll be glad you did.

Oh and for you completists, the Old 97’s make an appearance on a new comp from Compadre Records, titled Brewed in Texas, Vol. 2, with “Niteclub.” I’ll tell you, I didn’t have much Texas music in my collection before I first heard the 97’s back in ’93, and thanks to them, it’s the type of artists that appear on this comp who also show up a heck of a lot more frequently in my CD collection. This collection’s well worth checking out.

And now, Hit By A Train’s “scattershot links quiz” (TM) for this episode: Here’s a fantastic review of Drag It Up. QUESTION: In addition to the undeniable quality of the music and performances, why does the reviewer like the Old 97’s? I’ll send out hard-to-get, Wreck Your Life poster to the person who submits the correct answer first. New West has helpfully compiled the bulk of their Drag It Up publicity photos here. ASIDE: Am I the only one who was sorta hoping Rhett would pull his old BCG’s (or birth-control glasses, as we used to call ’em in the Army) when the 97’s did their Hitchhike To Rhome anniversary show last fall? Finally, on the off chance you’re a fan who’s never actually gotten to see the Old 97’s live, here’s a not untypical review of an Old 97’s show published earlier this year. Enjoy.

Let’s close this update out with more good news. No doubt you’ve heard about the horrible and paralyzing injuries sustained by David Cunniff, after he was attacked following an Old 97’s show at the Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas last summer. Well now, as living proof that prayers do get answered, Mr. Cunniff, while still near the beginning of a long, hard road back to good health, is walking again. Read about it here, take care, and check back soon.