Here’s something that turned up recently, a long-ago token I’d forgotten all about. It’s a laminate designed by Whiskeytown drummer/noted graphic artist Skillet Gilmore, and it dates back to the band’s interminable period of limbo in 1999 after recording what eventually came out as the album Pneumonia in 2001 (more about that time is in “Losering” — Chapter 11, fittingly enough).
While the band waited around for its fate to be decided after the Universal/PolyGram merger vaporized its label Outpost Records, Ryan Adams played a solo tour that included a handful of epic Triangle shows in the fall of ’99. Whiskeytown was winding down and becoming less and less of a going concern as the stalemate dragged on; but the band was booked into Cat’s Cradle nightclub in Carrboro for a New Year’s Eve show on Dec. 31, 1999.
Even with Y2K paranoia in the air, a full house turned out that night hoping to hear some of the new songs from Pneumonia. None were in the setlist, but it was a fine evening nevertheless. What I remember most about the show was Ryan serenading Skillet and his fiance Caitlin Cary with the Faithless Street song “Matrimony,” singing it in his best Jagger-esque cockney yowl after introducing it with a disclaimer: “Alanis Morissette is not ironic; this is ironic.”
Whiskeytown hadn’t played a local show in a while, and this one was deemed to be enough of a big deal for the band to do up a few of these “LIMITED PRESS ACCESS” laminates. They were kind enough to give me one, although all these years later I cannot recall what access it granted. But I’m glad to still have it.
Tags: Alanis Morissette, Caitlin Cary, Cat's Cradle, Matrimony, Mick Jagger, New Year's Eve, Outpost Records, Pneumonia, PolyGram, Skillet Gilmore, Universal Music, Y2k
Thursday brings Asleep at the Wheel to my home turf to perform at the Carrboro ArtsCenter. And while they’re in the vicinity, “Comin’ Right at Ya” co-writer/subject/star Ray Benson and I will be appearing on “The State of Things,” the mid-day talk show on WUNC 91.5-FM (and a show I’ve been on before). I believe Ray and I are scheduled to be on the air at about 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time Thursday.
We’ll be talking with host Frank Stasio about the book, of course, and also probably the Wheel’s “Merry Texas Christmas!” show happening Thursday night — not to mention their New Year’s Eve return engagement, opening for fellow travelers the Avett Brothers at Greensboro Coliseum. So tune us in on the radio (or listen online), and then drop on by the show at the ArtsCenter later and say hey. I bet Ray can be talked into signing copies of the book.
Dunno how your holiday season is shaping up this year, but mine is looking quite Asleep at the Wheel-intensive. I already had them penciled in for New Year’s Eve with the Avett Brothers over in Greensboro. And closer to home, the Wheel has just been announced for Dec. 17 at the Carrboro ArtsCenter with a Western swing holiday-themed show titled “Merry Texas Christmas, Y’all!”
You might think it odd for someone of the Jewish faith to do a Christmas show. But as Ray puts it in the closing Epilogue of “Comin’ Right at Ya,” “We’ve done two Christmas albums even though I’m Jewish because, between Jesus and Irving Berlin, there would be no Christmas without Jews.”
In my personal hierarchy of holidays, New Year’s Eve ranks near the bottom. Anywhere you go that night tends to be overcrowded with too many people trying way too hard to cram too much “fun” into one night, because they don’t get out enough the rest of the year. But this New Year’s Eve looks like it has some potential to be really cool.
Nice to see Asleep at the Wheel opening for the Avett Brothers, especially after the Avetts were one of the acts contributing to the Wheel’s latest Bob Wills tribute album Still the King.