Last time I saw a Ryan Adams performance, this past March at South By Southwest, the setlist had no Whiskeytown songs. That’s pretty typical nowadays for Ryan, who rarely revisits his former band’s catalog. But every now and then, Ryan will dust off one of those old “Losering”-era songs just for the heck of it. Here’s one I just now belatedly happened across, from a 2014 show in Milwaukee — a version of the Strangers Almanac song “Yesterday’s News,” recorded with The Shining and complete with the namecheck tribute to one of the finer now-defunct nightspots in Ryan’s long-ago hometown of Raleigh. That made me smile.
“See you at the Comet,” indeed.
I’m bummed to be missing Saturday night’s Yesterday’s News/Strangers Almanac show back home at Raleigh’s Berkeley Cafe. But I’ll be in a fun place, Austin for the Texas Book Festival, and at least there will be something decent to watch on TV that same night — “Comin’ Right at Ya” subject/star/co-writer Ray Benson playing on “Austin City Limits” with Asleep at the Wheel, alongside Sturgill Simpson plus guests including the Avett Brothers (with whom the Wheel will play on New Year’s Eve), Amos Lee and various Texas Playboys.
That’s cool, even if the timing of it is pretty ironic for yours truly: The book festival brings me to Ray’s hometown on the same weekend he’s on a television program I would have been able to watch from anywhere in the country. The Wheel and “ACL” go all the way back to the show’s very beginnings, episode no. 1 in 1976 (after Willie Nelson played the pilot), and the group has been on it enough times since over the years to be inducted into the “Austin City Limits” Hall of Fame this past June.
Anyway, check here to find exactly when and where in your area it will air. Here in Austin, looks like it’s on at 7 p.m. local time on public station KLRU-TV. And in the Raleigh/Durham vicinity, it comes on at midnight Saturday on UNC-TV.
Tags: Amos Lee, Austin City Limits, Avett Brothers, Berkeley Cafe, KLRU, Strangers Almanac, Sturgill Simpson, Texas Book Festival, Texas Playboys, UNC-TV, Yesterday's News
Actually, I won’t, seeing as how the Comet Lounge (a dank, dark Raleigh watering hole immortalized in the lyrics to the Whiskeytown Strangers Almanac song “Yesterday’s News”) was torn down long ago. Yet this canceled check, a recent gift from one of Ryan’s old Raleigh roommates, still exists as a reminder of one of his primary haunts from the Whiskeytown days.
It dates back to the same time period as the phone-bill check in Thomas O’Keefe’s recent eBay auction lot, but I like this one better. David Ryan Adams wrote it for 10 bucks to the Comet on a Wednesday in June 1997 for an amount that probably covered part of a night’s drinking — summarized in the Memo line as “Things.” That right there is pretty much the entire hard-luck story of “Losering” on one small piece of paper.