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Old 97's @ Boulder Theater

The Old 97’s, one of the most acclaimed and beloved bands to spring from the 90s indie rock scene, formed in Dallas in 1993, and are often considered one of the pioneers of the Alt Country genre, although their influences are as varied as The Kinks, The Beatles, The Pixies, David Bowie, Johnny Cash (hence the name) and Merle Haggard. Their career got off to a fast start in 1994 with their debut release, Hitchhike To Rhome.

Old 97’s are comprised of: Rhett Miller, bassist/vocalist Murry Hammond, lead guitarist Ken Bethea and drummer Philip Peeples.

 
 
Their latest album, Blame It On Gravity, superbly combines the various elements of rock, punk, classic country and pop displayed on previous releases and the collection is easily the band’s most wellrounded stack of songs recorded for a single offering to date.
 
 
Boulder Theater
2032 14th Street
Boulder, CO 80302
303.786.7030
www.bouldertheater.com
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GA / 18+ / $24.00 On Sale May 9

Old Man Winter Blues & Brew Fest Heats Up the Frozen North

After a month of 25 and 35 below temperatures, North Dakota was treated to a tropical warm up of monstrous musical proportions.  Last weekend, the Hub Entertainment Complex hosted an all day indoor festival on two stages: The intimate Cadillac Ranch stage and the bigger, more open Venue stage.

Old Crow Medicine Show @ Boulder Theater

Old Crow Medicine Show- for the Grateful Web

With combined sales totaling over 280,000 albums, an appearance on Austin City Limits, two performances on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, and multiple appearances on A Prairie Home Companion, various NPR programs and the Grand Ole Opry, OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW prepares for the September 23rd release of TENNESSEE PUSHER, their third album for Nettwerk Music Group and their most personal album to date. 

TENNESSEE PUSHER, produced by Don Was (Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt), features 13 infectious tracks that offer a virtual American road trip, populated with characters that seem to span a century of the South. Down and outers, hustlers, freighthoppers - these are just a few of the archetypes we meet along the way. OCMS continues to create their special blend of American roots, rock, blues and country, but on TENNESSEE PUSHER, the band has truly found their own voice.  With the exception of  "Always Lift Him Up" by Blind Alfred Reed, all of the tracks on the album are OCMS originals. Also noteworthy are two distinguished session musicians that joined the band in the studio: Jim Keltner (John Lennon, Neil Young, Brian Wilson) on drums and Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) on Hammond C-3 organ.

When asked why he chose to work with OCMS, Don Was explains:  "People ask me what The Old Crow Medicine Show are all about. If I'm in a hurry, I just say that they're The Clash of bluegrass music, but that doesn't really do anyone any justice. I could tell 'em that they're a rock 'n roll band who use fiddles and acoustic guitars instead of Les Pauls and Marshal stacks, but that's only one small part of the story. They're an American Band - even more so than Grand Funk Railroad! In fact, it's not hyperbolic to say that, as musicians, songwriters and singers, they are the smartest and finest purveyors of American music to come down the pike in decades."

OCMS will begin touring in support of TENNESSEE PUSHER on September 3rd in the UK, with stops in Manchester, Edinburgh and London before hitting the US on September 18th. With most of their time spent on the road, OCMS has made a name for themselves as energetic performers with an unbridled spirit. It's a live show not to be missed.

BOULDER THEATER
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20  |  8PM

TICKETS ON-SALE FRIDAY, AUGUST 22 AT 10AM!

TICKETS AVAILABLE AT THE BOULDER THEATER BOX OFFICE, ALL TICKETMASTER OULETS, TICKETMASTER.COM, OR BOULDERTHEATER.COM
$29.50 IN ADVANCE / $33 DAY OF SHOW

Old 97's Murry Hammond's first solo album due August 18

Murry Hammond- for the Grateful Web

On August 18, 2008, Old 97's bass player and co-frontman Murry Hammond will celebrate the national release of his first full-length album outside of the Old 97's.

For two months prior to this street date, the album – I Don't Know Where I'm Going But I'm On My Way – was made available exclusively at Old 97's shows and through special mail-order. Hammond wished to capitalize on fan anticipation of the album's release in order to raise funds for the non-profit organization Project Mercy. Project Mercy builds basic housing in the poorest sections around Tijuana, Mexico (similar in mission to Habitat for Humanity) using volunteer labor provided by area churches. A group of men and women from Hammond's home church in Burbank, Calif. (where he performs roots gospel music weekly when he's not traveling) have adopted the organization as a primary mission. Hammond was in a unique position to raise funds quickly, and in time to fund fall building before the 2008 winter sets in. The strategy has already paid off, for as of July 1st generous fans purchased enough CDs to pay for one house.  The album will always be made available at Old 97's shows, with 100% going to charitable groups such as Project Mercy.

Hammond has played many memorable solo shows over the years, but it was certain events in his life, including the death of both parents, leaving Texas to start a family in California, and a renewed spiritual sense, that inspired him to record I Don't Know Where I'm Going But I'm On My Way. Hammond has been given the credit — and to some, the blame — for the persistent roots influence found in the 97's songwriting and sound, and that sound is found here in its distilled form. "Both in my own contributions and in co-writing with Rhett [Miller], I've always tended to push the chug of train songs, the soul of old-time songs and spirituals, the high-lonesome wail of mountain music, and the pure tuneful fun of singing cowboy music."  Hammond's contributions have been some of the group's most engaging, including the lament "Valentine" and "Color of a Lonely Heart is Blue," and with Miller he co-wrote some of the group's best-known songs, among them "Timebomb," "Indefinitely" and "The New Kid."

Hammond completed I Don't Know Where I'm Going but I'm on My Way over the course of 2007 in San Diego, California with producer Mark Neill, with whom Hammond worked on the Old 97's 2004 release Drag It Up. The album uses all acoustic instruments (six- and twelve-string guitars, a harmonium pump-organ), cowboy poetry-style spoken word and instrumentals, and lots of "period" reverb to paint a psychological journey through a world of spiritual trouble and triumph, restlessness, hope, loss, longing, regret, and wonder. Train songs and spirituals abound as Hammond displays his love of all things Carter Family, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, but with the twist of incorporating the moody approach of ambient artists such as Brian Eno. Like that of his heroes, the music has a minimalist heart, at once serene and severe.

Inspired by the grass-roots ethic of early punk record labels such as Dischord and Touch & Go, Hammond decided to operate DIY. He funded all facets of the CD from recording to manufacturing, and he distributes by dealing directly with independent music stores and mail-order houses. Although he also sells on Amazon.com, Hammond wants you to know, "I fill all my own orders personally. It gives me a chance to occasionally write something thoughtful or joke-y on the mailing box."

Hammond is also excited to have contributed a new track, "Bound for Canaan," to a compilation of Sacred Harp music (also known as "shaped note singing") that was produced by the filmmakers of Awake My Soul, a documentary film about the 200-year history of Sacred Harp worship singing in the U.S. The film was shown in 2007 and 2008 on 120 PBS stations, and was released this year on DVD.  The compilation also features Innocence Mission, John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin, Jim Lauderdale, Carolina Chocolate Drops and Woven Hand (ex-16 Horsepower), among others. The Awake My Soul audio CD is due later this year. More information on Awake My Soul film and audio CD can be found here.

For the rest of 2008 Hammond will be performing solo dates between Old 97's touring, and has also begun work on a follow-up project with producer Mark Neill.

Just Like Old Times for Panic in Memphis (09/21/07)

photos by Amanda Bell- for the Grateful Web

Widespread Panic made their return to Memphis, this time with a new twist, a new guitarist and a few old tricks up their sleeve.

This year's Fall Tour-opening run marked the band's first shows in this melting pot of American Music since the end of July, 2006, and a few changes were apparent this time around.  

Not only was this their first time playing the new downtown FedEx Forum, only a stone's throw from world-famous Beale Street, but it was new guitarist Jimmy Herring's first Memphis Panic shows since he joined the band at this time last year.

The band's last shows at their old home, the dark, dingy and loveable old space ship that was MidSouth Coliseum, were also two of the final three shows for former guitarist George McConnell, who had replaced founding member Mikey Houser just before his death from pancreatic cancer on August 10, 2002. McConnell quit last summer's tour after the next day's show in St. Louis, once he confronted the rest of the band regarding rumors of his lame-duck status.

But in a new venue, with a new guitarist, the same old road warriors lit the same old town on fire, showing the versatility that has made them a stalwart of consistency for over twenty years.

This show had a little bit of everything you could ask for from a Panic show.

There was the bouncy, happy sound, exemplified by the show opening trio of A of D, Space Wrangler and Walkin' (For Your Love). It was Herring's first try at the instrumental A of D, a song not played since longtime producer John Keane and Houser's old guitar tech Sam Holt shared the lead spot to help the band finish last summer's tour, before Herring was hired for fall. Wrangler and Walkin' got the band warmed up and the crowd in the mood and ready to keep singing along with front man and resident preacher John Bell.

Another bit of joy marked the opening of the second set, with the instrumental Party at Your Mama's House showcasing Herring's growing sense of comfort with his new band in the form of a very patient jam. Bell also chimed in throughout with nice work on the slide, which is pretty much the only time during a show you can easily hear his instrumental contribution. But, hey, they don't pay the man to play the guitar.   

But that wasn't all this show had in store.

There were the hard rocking foot-stompers. The upbeat Tie Your Shoes followed Walkin', and gave the crowd a usual second set piece of sandwich bread in the first set. The song allowed both the rapid-fire notes of Herring and the rolling bass line of Dave Schools to shine.

More songs in this vein would follow the rest of the night, from the dark rollercoaster of funk that is Pigeons in the first set to their heavy take on the traditional blues of Junior in the second set.

One of the hardest rockers came in the person of Glory, making its first appearance in a set in nearly six full years. And the band nailed this version, appropriately providing a rare surprise for the fans in a town with its own special place in Panic lore.

And while Herring continues to find his comfort zone with this group, there are still noticeable growing pains. It seemed as though he approached shows in the spring as a contest to see how many notes he could play during solos, this Eddie Van Halen-esque style being a stark contrast to the floating, psychedelic sound of Houser. He began picking his spots a little better over the summer, but he overdid it a bit this time on songs like Big Wooly Mammoth and Surprise Valley.

The rest of the band had their moments, too. One can expect some hiccups during tour openers, and this Friday in Memphis was no different. Schools started early for the encore, Imitation Leather shoes, before becoming visibly agitated. Bell appeared to sound unsure of himself as he began the vocals to Climb to Safety, which led to a slightly disjointed beginning. And a second set drop back into Chilly Water from You Got Yours was a bit sloppy.

But, as it is with most Panic shows, the good far outweighed the bad inside the Forum.

The highlight of the first set came with the jam out of Rebirtha, into the fan favorite Ribs and Whiskey. The former ended with lots of funk and great work from Herring, before dissipating into easily one of the longest, most patient Ribs intros that this reviewer has heard, with Herring accented nicely by great slide work from Bell, both flowing over Todd Nance's steady kick drum.

More exemplary jamming followed in the second set, first with the opener, Party, and then with one of the funkiest versions of Climb to Safety you will ever hear. Keyboardist Jojo Hermann carried the jam with his clavinet, riding on top of a funky bass line from Schools that reminded one of their cover of Solid Rock, and song from Bob Dylan's Christian revivalist period. It was a wonderful change of pace for a song too often mailed in with little variation within the jam.

Hermann was not done there, however. His next standout moment would begin a stretch of the show that exemplified why fans still come back to Panic after all these years, because they feature a dark, evil edge to their sound that is truly unmatched by anyone else in the scene.

A drum intro from Nance and percussionist Sunny Ortiz led into an especially sinister version of Dr. John's I Walk on Guilded Splinters, featuring Hermann putting the fear into the crowd with a mix of funky Hammond B-3 and chaotic piano. The jam also featured outstanding work by Herring and a lot of call-and-response between the two of them.

Guilded segued nicely into a Chilly Water sandwich, the meat being more loud, dark, thunderous rock in the form of You Got Yours. The band followed this with the unquestionable highlight of the evening, Colonel Bruce Hampton's Time is Free, which Herring effectively carried on his back with one stretch of psychedelic shredding after another, helped by Bell's growling vocals and rambling raps. 

The set very well could have ended after Chilly Water, and probably should have ended after the marathon version of Time is Free, but Herring jumped right into the roaring stomp of Neil Young's classic, Mr. Soul, finally ending a monster second set and leaving much of the crowd exhausted, undoubtedly nursing sore arms from constant fist-pumping.

The crowd hardly seemed bothered by the short encore, but, after the previous stretch, who could blame them?

After all, once Imitation Leather Shoes gave them time to catch their breath, the debauchery of Beale Street awaited them outside the Forum's doors.

09/21/07 FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN

1: A of D, Space Wrangler, Walkin' (For Your Love), Tie Your Shoes > Pigeons, Blue Indian, Rebirtha > Ribs and Whiskey, Big Wooly Mammoth

2: Party at Your Mama's House > Junior, Glory, Smoking Factory, Surprise Valley > Climb to Safety, Guilded Splinters > Chilly Water > You Got Yours > Chilly Water, Time is Free > Mr. Soul

E: Imitation Leather Shoes 

Dean & Britta: New, Old, and Wistful

As my wife and I walked into the quiet venue to the opening sounds of vibraphonist Sean McCaul, we could hear the delicate clanking of forks, voices whispering, and the sonorous vibes echoing relaxing notes into the dining area. The venue was set up like a dining hall tonight with tables with groups of people gently conversing while McCaul supplied the ultimate background ambiance.