Monday, January 01, 2007

Southern-Fried New Years

Despite the monsoon that kicked it off, yesterday/last night turned out to be pretty darn fun. I met the crew of Nixon, Carlos and Cathy at Brewhouse for a little dinner and beers before going over to the Variety for the show.

There was a raffle. I won a beer mug thing and two nights at the Marriott in Marietta. I think I made some joke on the microphone about it being the "Mariotta." The manager of the hotel who donated the prize was there. Don't know if he thought it was as funny as I did. Don't know what I'm gonna do with that one. There were free shots being passed around. I think I had a couple. They made me. They weren't taking no for an answer.

Then I had one of the best new year's eves ever. Simple, no expectations. The only way to cross it over.

We walked in just as Centro-Matic was starting up. They were crazy good—and they're from Texas so you know they've got it. They're one of those bands that I've always heard their name but never really listened to but last night made me a fan. "Patience for the Ride" and "Calling Thermatico" were solidly outstanding but then they dedicated one to the Trucker's. They ripped out a wicked bluesy cover of Lionel Richie's "All Night Long." It was so unrecognizable it wasn't until the line "we're going to party, fiesta" that I picked it up. It was amazing.

Then the Drive-By Truckers came out and proceeded to take the roof off the joint.

On a deeper level, there are times when The South totally makes sense. Last night was one of them. It's one of those rare moments when our identity as southerners is not derived solely from the fact that we're not Yankees and apparently lost some sort of war a while back. No, the Trucker's are in the great tradition of being unapologetically southern in their own right and thus are what makes The South great. They are The South of Elvis and Carl Perkins and Johnny and Levon Helm. The South that's proud of what it is, not what it isn't. It's much easier to play brilliant music when you don't have a chip on your shoulder.

They would go from a sad one about drinkin' and losin' women into a totally a capella five part harmony on "Bulldozers and Dirt" straight back into a rocker like "Never Gonna Change." Three guitars minimum. Sometimes four. They played pedal steel. They soloed at the lip of the stage. They polished off a huge bottle of Jack Daniels between them. Their songs are full of detail. They gave a heartfelt thanks to the crowd and the city that has supported them all these years.

It was like seeing the Black Crowes in 1991. It was like seeing the Allman Brothers when Duane was still alive. It was like seeing The Band in '76 during the Last Waltz show. I'm not kidding. And the crowd kept the cell phones and digital camera to a minimum. Southern Rock and Roll is apparently alive and well and seeping out of places like Alabama and Texas. It was one of the best shows I've ever been to.

They rocked right across midnight—none of that unnecessary Aud Lang Syne crap and hugging and kissing of strangers. They simply dropped some balloons, kept rocking and then did like 10 encores. One of them was Van Halen's "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love." It slayed. The show ended sometime around 1:45.

I'm completely deaf. My ears were ringing so loud I could barely get to sleep last night. That can't be good.

Happy New Year, all.


Blogger Tania Rochelle said...

I'm so jealous. I was listening to them on my ipod while I jogged New Year's Eve day.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Howard said...

I'm still kicking myself for missing Ray LaMontagne. We're even.

8:28 AM  

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