Done Somebody Wrong; Midnight Rider; End of the Line; Worried Down With the Blues; Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More; Dusk Till Dawn (Bill Evans); Jessica
Statesboro Blues (David stoltz bass); You Don’t Love Me; Rocking Horse > Black Hearted Woman; Standback > Elizabeth Reed (Evans) > bass > drums > Liz (conclusion). encore: Southbound (Oteil on Jaimoe’s kit; Vaylor Trucks, guitar; unknown, bass)
I should caution up front that my take on this show might not match the consensus take; I was sitting very close and centered, so I was hearing the stage mix, not the house mix. What I did hear, though, was terrific…
The show kicks off with a super-jaunty “Done Somebody Wrong,” crisp, clear, precise. Derek plays some nice hanging lines. “Midnight Rider,” then a nice “End of the Line;” there’s some pretty Warren mist, giving way to a smoldering Warren/Derek square-off, with Warren’s rhythm and Oteil’s bass providing a crunchy bottom.
“Worried Down With the Blues” is an early highlight. Warren sings the hell out of it like he’s got all the time in the world to tell you his pitiful tale of woe. It’s killer, simply redolent of the blues; big, dewy blues drops splash down all around us (I wish I’d worn my blues galoshes). Derek kills it, then Warren kills it, then they converge center stage for a blues clinic. “Aint Wastin’ Time No More” changes up the mood, from deep dark to light and airy; Derek glides and swoops leading into the vocals, Warren plays wavy lines on the outro.
Sax player Bill Evans joins the band for Warren’s new “Dusk Till Dawn,” a song the band has put in heavy rotation, trying out in different slots and in different ways. Butch counts it in (“1-2-3, 2-2-3…”), Warren spells out the chords gently with his fingers while Evans blows like he’s on the roof at 3AM under a sad moon. Warren goes mojo, leading into the inevitable Warren/Evans showdown, the invisible musical rubber band between them contracting, pulling them closer to each other as the heat rises (and Evans starts out all the way on the right side of the stage, so they’ve got some space to traverse.) Then Derek trades licks with Evans into the close. Another highlight.
A big “Jessica” closes the set, a brisk, frisky jaunt through the riffage of the front end. Then the music comes to a pregnant pause, and Oteil toys with the theme from “Mountain Jam.” The drums are on it, then Warren, and you wonder if it’s still just a tease. Soon the rhythm morphs back to “Jessica,” but all the melody on the top is gone… then, sprinkled lightly back on, until the band is racing into the back forty of the song to close out a solid, solid first set.
Dave Stoltz of Great Southern joins on bass in Oteil’s place for an opening “Statesboro Blues;” because the song rides so hard on the bass riff (the “bumpa-dumpa”), changing the bass player changes the feel of the song. It’s still “Statesboro” though, and a fun run through it. Warren plays some slide on “You Don’t Love Me,” Derek counters with some fingered lead work. The drums roll and rumble as the music stills, the guitars search, Jaimoe plays with pronounced precision (finally a seat I can see him from!), then on to the close.
Next Oteil lays down a rubbery beat. The drums join in, then Warren, then finally Derek and Gregg… the band rides Oteil’s groove, Warren dances above it, lightly peppering the stew with tangy notes, until finally they tumble into “Rocking Horse.” Out of the first vocal portion, Warren and Oteil hit the note together, then Warren explodes out off the energy of it. Warren and Oteil cook it till it’s smoldering hot, Derek smiling in approval. Then the band descends into the mist, from which emerges the section I’ve come to think of as “Derek’s Tune,” happy and soaring, before slamming back into the climax of “Rocking Horse.” Instead of stopping though, they barge right into “Black Hearted Woman,” falling hard into the frantic waltz-time coda of the song, spewing molten intensity. Again, lots of Warren/Oteil heat. From there they flip over into the “Other One” jam that now regularly emerges from the waltzy coda, Derek pulls taffy over pretty Warren chords, then the whole mess is amped up to triple speed, then the band wraps itself around the riff, a flash of drums into the two-chord statement from Warren that heralds a return to the waltz-time part, and a mad 40 yard dash to the close.
“Standback” continues in exactly the same place “Black Hearted Woman” leaves off, that same hard hot boiler room one-chord hose of fire. The song ends but the drums don’t stop, and the band gently eases into a new space, down, down, until a smack on the drums cues the flip into “Elizabeth Reed.” Evans saunters out to join in, Warren makes it rain, splashing big tone droplets. Evans answers… and finally we get to the first sprint through the theme. Out of that, Derek smolders in a rapid fire run, then Gregg solos over just drums and bass, until the guitars join in, egging him on with chords. Then Evans improvises over just drums and bass; then Oteil throws down, and the guitar chording engine is engaged. A quick flash of drums, then Warren peels off whistles, then rubbery queries, then he solos over full band. Derek churns with the drums while Warren, Evans and Oteil turn up the boil, into a Warren/Evans duel. Whew.
Then into the bass solo, then a four-man drum circle, with Oteil on Butch’s kit. Out of which Evans and Warren engage in a quick call and response, then Warren rings out, and then back quickly to the close.
Vaylor Trucks (Butch’s boy) joins on guitar for the inevitable “Soutnbound” encore, along with John Ray (I don’t know who that is) on bass; Oteil is on Jaimoe’s kit now, and is featured in a brief interlude. Vaylor acquits himself quite nicely.
Solid, solid show. I came away thinking the first set had been outstanding; reliving the second set now as I write, I realize it was hotter than I’d remembered. They’d played all the colorful songs the night prior, so this second set was all monochromatic– “Black Hearted Woman,” “Standback,” Elizabeth Reed,” even “Rocking Horse.” I like the color, but they can do monochromatic just as well as they do the color. So this night was very different from the night prior, more earth as opposed to air, but highly rewarding.