Friday, March 23, 2007

Live music & big days

Fred Eaglesmith at Dan's

On Monday, March 19, Fred Eaglesmith played at Dan's Silverleaf in Denton. It was billed as an early show (8 pm start), so I was lucky that it happened to be scheduled for one of my days off from work.

The music began around 8 pm with an opening act, Tucker Finn, a folk singer from Eaglesmith's home province of Ontario. She played about 6 or 7 songs and then Eaglesmith and his band, "the Flying Squirrels" took the stage.

Over the past few years, I've become familiar with many of Eaglesmith's songs through local radio stations KNON (the "Texas Renegade Radio" show) and KHYI. I have three of their cd's, including "Ralph's Last Show", a double-live album which gives listeners a pretty good idea of what to expect when they hear Eaglesmith perform live.

the landmark "silver leaf" southeast of downtown Denton

Eaglesmith was just one of several good shows scheduled for this week.

A good-sized crowd for a Monday night...

Eaglesmith's band consisted of: Kori Heppner on drums (Kori also sold Eaglesmith's cd's and t-shirts before and after the show), Luke Stackhouse on upright bass, and the legendary Willie P. Bennett on harmonica and mandolin. Typical of his vocal style, Fred half-sang, half-growled through the lyrics of his up-tempo songs, employing a southern "twang" that would bring most self-respecting Canadians to tears. He sure doesn't SOUND Canadian, eh? Fred and his band played several songs I recognized from the albums I have, including:

18 wheels
Cumberland County
49 tons
I like trains
Freight train
Time to get a gun
You're spookin the horses
I shot your dog (very up tempo version)
White trash
Good enough

Fred Eaglesmith & the Flying Squirrels

Fred Eaglesmith at Dan's Silverleaf in Denton

Willie P. Bennett on harmonica and mandolin

I was slightly disappointed that they didn't play "the Rocket", "Wilder than her", or "Lucille". But the ones that they did play sounded great, especially "Carmelita" with the extended intro. Fred by himself would be quite a draw, and I'd gladly pay money to see him perform a solo acoustic set. But it is the talents of Willie Bennett that really makes the live performance a memorable experience. Bennett ground on his electric mandolin, sometimes using a slide, as if he were Eddie Van Halen, and frequently belted out backing lyrics in a tenor harmony on some songs, and blew on his harmonica during others. I love the sound of a well-played mandolin, but I've never heard one played like that. Spectacular!

Between songs, Eaglesmith embarked on a few lengthy monologues, addressing topics as varied as: songs about dogs; animal rights activism and Paul McCartney; the Weather Channel (Fred says that he's from the place where, when you're watching the Weather Channel, the weather "stops"); audience members paying a $20 cover and then talking during the songs (Fred said that usually happens in towns where there aren't any gay bars... those people come to his shows instead); and a discussion of how the movie "Brokeback Mountain" has made western attire less fashionable among mainstream Canadians (he described a recent trip to Alberta where he and the band bought up all the "ass-less chaps" and took them back to Toronto to sell!) Needless to say, most members of the audience -- except those talking during the songs -- had smiles on their faces .

I was glad to finally get a chance to see Fred in concert. I bought a t-shirt and a cd (which Fred autographed). If he comes to your town, be sure to go see him.

I also bought a bumper sticker with this amusing slogan...

M turns 6...

M had his 6th birthday a few days ago. The day arrived with relatively little fanfare, but he did open a present (a box of "Toobers & Zots") before heading off to school. Not to worry... there's plenty more where that came from; we have a party scheduled for this Sunday.

6 years young! M celebrates his birthday...

Another big day

Yesterday, K and I celebrated a significant wedding anniversary. It's hard to believe we've been married that long. We went to lunch together, but we'll be celebrating the occasion in style when we take a special trip together next month.


np: Johnny Cash & Joe Strummer - cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" - on KHYI 95.3 FM "the Range"

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