Posts Tagged With: Rachel Hirsh

Come Dancing (with the women at the bar)

BruxesThe first time I heard Rachel Hirsh perform her spooky version of Whiskeytown’s “Dancing With the Women at the Bar” was just over two years ago, at 2015’s “Losering 2: A Tribute to the Songs of Ryan Adams” show. It really was fantastic and I said as much at the time, writing that I thought it was something “she really should record.” I wasn’t the only one who thought so, and I’m happy to report that Rachel has indeed recorded a very fine version with her band Bruxes  — which is now out in the world; you can take a listen on Spotify, and buy it on Amazon.

The original version of “Dancing,” of course, first appeared on Strangers Almanac, Whiskeytown’s alternative-country landmark, which was released on July 29, 1997. That makes this Saturday the album’s 20-year anniversary, and we’re going to mark the occasion in style. That night, Raleigh’s Deep South The Bar will host “Losering 4,” with Antique Hearts playing Strangers Almanac from start to finish — which they pulled off with amazing aplomb last year, so it should be great. David Burney, Christiane, Eric Scholz, Garland Mason, Bobby Bryson and Ryan Kennemur are all on the bill, too, and yours truly will be there to serve as host.

Tickets are $7-$10, with proceeds again earmarked for the Food Bank of Eastern and Central NC. Come on out.

 

 

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Losering 2: Thank you, friends

L2BlackboardThe first “Losering” tribute show back in 2013 went so great, I had a hard time imagining a sequel could come anywhere close to matching it. But Saturday night’s “Losering 2: A tribute to the Songs of Ryan Adams” at Deep South the Bar was truly start-to-finish wonderful in every way. It raised $923.46 for the Food Bank of Eastern & Central North Carolina, and the music was so moving that I found myself misting up a good half-dozen times over the course of the evening.

Mark Cimerro started things off with two early-period Whiskeytown songs, which was fitting. Mark used to be proprietor of Sonic Wave, the Raleigh studio where Whiskeytown recorded the tracks that became the 1995 “Angels Are Messengers From God” EP (and later the 1997 album Rural Free Delivery). “Too Drunk to Dream,” featuring pedal steel by Dylan Ritter from Greensboro’s The Grand Ole Uproar, was particularly fine; and for a between-song bonus, Mark recounted how Ryan had taken all the pictures off the walls at Sonic Wave during the Whiskeytown sessions because he found the studio environs “too nice.” Oh, that Ryan.

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Rachel Hirsh destroying “Dancing With the Women at the Bar” — in the best way possible.

I got to host and introduce the bands, but there’s no way this show would have happened without the efforts of various members of I Was Totally Destroying It. Frontman John Booker booked the acts, helped stage-manage and performed himself; his version of “Somebody Remembers the Rose” was my first lump-in-the-throat moment of the night. IWTDI guitarist Curtis Armstead also ran sound and played (leading a nice “Come Pick Me Up” sing-along), and Rachel Hirsh’s version of “Dancing With the Women at the Bar” was a revelation that she really should record.

Also working hard was Aslan Freeman, who played his own set (props for “Turn Around,” especially) and backed up enough of the bill that he was onstage for a good chunk of the night. One person he played with was Kasey Tyndall, a young singer with a preternaturally big voice for a 19-year-old. She’s moving to Nashville soon and I expect you’ll be hearing a lot more from her before too long.

Other highlights: Ryan “Showtime” Kennemur and Taylor Adams from Dragmatic pretty much killing with “Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight”; Keef Debonzo’s “Lucky Now,” another mist-up moment for me; Charles Marshall and Mike Ferguson from Balsa Gliders recreating “(Argument with David Rawlings concerning Morissey),” the spoken-word bit that opens Ryan’s Heartbreaker album; and the jaw-dropping voice of New Reveille’s Amy Kann. I tried shooting video of Amy singing “Easy Hearts” and the audio didn’t come out well enough to post; but check out New Reveille’s video here.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not usually onstage myself and if you were to ever hear me sing in public — which, to adopt the parlance of Taylor Swift, is so not going to happen, like, ever — you’d agree that’s a big, big net positive for the planet. But about halfway through the evening, Deep South co-owner Dave Rose called me from my side-stage MC perch to the center of the stage, to receive the plaque below. I had no idea that was coming, and I can’t tell you how touching it was. I’d already felt honored and humbled by the whole thing, and that put a nice capper on an amazing night. If you were there, you know. If you weren’t, well, you should’ve been.

All I can say is: Thank you, friends.

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“Losering 2” setlist

Mark Cimerro: “Tennessee Square,” “Too Drunk to Dream”

John Booker (I Was Totally Destroying It): “Somebody Remembers the Rose,” “Feels Like Fire,” “Two,” “When the Stars Go Blue”

Ryan Kennemur and Taylor Adams (Dragmatic): “Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight,” “Drank Like a River,” “Houses on the Hill”

Curtis Armstead (IWTDI): “Trouble,” “Come Pick Me Up”

Stephen Chandler Wilson (The Arcane Heart): “Dance All Night,” “Blue Hotel”

Aslan Freeman (Future Ghosts): “Turn Around,” “Am I Safe,” “Anybody Want to Take Me Home”

Kasey Tyndall: “16 Days,” “Mirror Mirror,” “Don’t Wanna Know Why,” “New York, New York”

Keef and Dave Debonzo (Debonzo Brothers): “Oh My Sweet Carolina,” “Ballad of Carol Lynn,” “Lucky Now”

Rachel Hirsh (IWTDI): “Wolves,” “Gimme Something Good,” “Dancing With the Women at the Bar”

Members of New Reveille: “To Be Young (is to be sad, is to be high),” “Easy Hearts”

Charles Marshall, Mike Ferguson (Balsa Gliders), Richard Bolton: “(Argument with David Rawlings concerning Morissey),” “Damn Sam (I love a woman that rains),” “Not Home Anymore”

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“Losering: The Songs of Ryan Adams” — wish you were here

DMMCBack in Whiskeytown’s prime, I really wanted them to break through to widespread popularity, which seems a bit odd in retrospect. Sure, it would have been fun to watch from close range; but I can’t say why I was rooting for them beyond a vague belief that a large audience was going to provide some measure of validation. There was closure that only a large crowd singing along with “Sixteen Days” was going to provide.

Fittingly and belatedly, that happened last night, sort of. The fine folks at Deep South The Bar in Raleigh put together a tribute show inspired by my book, “Losering: The Songs of Ryan Adams,” and I got to emcee. And about halfway through the show, while members of the band Old Quarter were playing “Sixteen Days” — the song I thought was going to be Whiskeytown’s big breakout hit way back in 1997 — I was hollering along with everyone else in the soldout house and feeling chills about the experience.

Ghost has got me running
Away from you, away from you, awaaaaaay…

It was a truly wonderful night, very much a feeling of being among friends and fellow fans; as much a tribute to the milieu Ryan came out of as to Ryan himself. There were multiple highlights, some of which went like this:

Aaron Menconi, shortly before asking why he started that damn country band.

Aaron Menconi, shortly before asking why he started that damn country band.

The Equivocators — Featuring my dear friend Scott Huler, they kicked things off with three songs from Whiskeytown’s Faithless Street album; “Midway Park,” “Hard Luck Story” and the title track. When Scott got to the “started this damn country band” line, I coached my 18-year-old son Aaron to yell out, “Why’d you do that?”

David Teeter (from the band Martha Ann Motel) — He brought out a couple of more recent Ryan solo songs, “Shadowlands” and “Desire.” And to make the absent guest of honor seem more present, David also played the recording of the infamous Jim DeRogatis voicemail, a legendary moment in artist-critic relations. Guffaws all around.

Ryan Kennemur — Continuing in a humorous vein, Ryan gave a nod to Mr. Adams’ touchier side by belting out a bit of Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69.” Then he got down to business, and his versions of “Turn Around,” “Avenues” and especially “If He Can’t Have You” were outstanding.

John Booker and Rachel Hirsh (I Was Totally Destroying It) — Major props go to John, who did a fantastic job with booking the acts for this show. And he and his bandmate Rachel did great with four songs — “Everybody Knows,” “Call Me On Your Way Back Home,” “Don’t Be Sad” and “Firecracker.” There was an enthusiastic audience sing-along on the latter song, and John needled me a bit for not giving it and the rest of Ryan’s Gold album sufficient respect in the book. Touche! Danny Johnson, who plays in about a thousand other bands, sat in.

Bobby Bryson — I’d never heard Bobby before, and he might have played my favorite set of the night with stellar versions of “A Kiss Before I Go,” “Let It Ride” (also much audience singing along here) and “Carolina Rain.” He showed absolute command instrumentally as well as vocally, and I loved his stage presence. Afterward, he presented me with a business card carrying the slogan Songs that gently rip your heart out. I believe it.

DeepSouthCharles Marshall and Richard Bolton (Balsa Gliders) — They put a couple of Strangers Almanac-era Whiskeytown classics through some unusual paces, quieting down “Waiting to Derail” and rocking up “Avenues.” Very cool, inventive versions that they clearly put some thought into.

John Massengil, George Hage and Danny Johnson (Old Quarter) — The aforementioned “Sixteen Days” sing-along went over great. So did “Jacksonville Skyline” and a lovely reading of “Houses on the Hill.” Meg Johnson sat in on vocals (and also with Jack the Radio). Felt like being at the Brewery back in the day.

Jack the Radio — Speaking of sing-alongs, there was a raucous one on “Come Pick Me Up,” maybe the most exuberant of the night. “O My Sweet Carolina” and “Lucky Now” rounded it out.

Adam Lane and Jeff Mullins — Ryan Kennemur returned for an exceptionally sweet harmony vocal on “Desperate Ain’t Lonely” (which they rehearsed once, outside in the parking lot, and Ryan had to read the lyrics off his phone — perfect). They also offered up a couple of nice rarities, “Onslow County” and “Oh My Sweet Valentine,” which never fails to put a lump in my throat. Last night was no exception.

Ryan Mullaney and Ashley Gray — Two fine singers teamed up to harmonize on “Desire” and the Gold standard “When the Stars Go Blue” (take that, Tim McGraw).

Wylie Hunter (Wylie Hunter & the Cazadores) — Back to Whiskeytown days with “Dancing With the Women at the Bar,” and Heartbreaker‘s “Be My Winding Wheel.” Really glad to hear both.

ChipNYNYChip Robinson (Backsliders) — He sat at the piano and covered “New York, New York,” reading lyrics he’d scribbled out by hand. Fascinating, weird and pretty great, made even moreso because he was wearing a Wu-Tang Clan T-shirt. I snagged the hand-written lyrics for my archive.

Debonzo Brothers — Jeff and Keef with another long-lost favorite, “Hey There, Mrs. Lovely” (yay!), plus Heartbreaker‘s “In My Time of Need.”

Be The Moon — And in the closing slot, this trio from Burlington offered up the resurrected Whiskeytown song “Am I Unstable.” It was fantastic, featuring box drum and an arrangement that Peter Blackstock’s memory placed in the ballpark of the original (which Whiskeytown only played live once, nearly 13 years ago).

All told, the event raised $579 for the Future of Music Coalition. I could not be happier, and prouder of everyone involved. Thanks to all the musicians, and especially to Deep South impressario Dave Rose for making it happen.

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