Saturday, December 8, 2007

Peter Case & Friends - March 7th 2008

I've always been able to take off to a show and grab a ticket. Tonight was sold out. Luckily, someone was unloading an extra, and I got in no problem.

For all the shows I've been to, I've never been to one at McCabes. I own more than a few bootlegs recorded at McCabe's, and I think I'm going to enjoy them a bit more now that I've taken in a show there.

They host shows in the back room of a "guitar shop" which would more aptly be called a "guitar museum." The stage is at one end, with stairs going up to a loft where the talent hangs out. The other three walls are covered with every imaginable guitar and permeation of guitar.

The show started out with Peter playing "Who's Gonna Go Your Crooked Mile" and then a traditional mining song where he was joined onstage by a woman who played the fiddle. It was really nice.

The format of the rest of the show was intended to be a succession of several artists that played on "A Case for Case" cd (a cd to benefit "Hungry for Music" a non profit that brings music and instruments into
classrooms). They'd play the song that they had contributed, and then one or two of their own. Or so the plan was.

First up was Claire Holley, who did "Two Angels" and did a lovely job with it. She also played one of her songs, which I found compelling. If you want the rock, not for you. If you want a beautiful voice, lilting melodies, interesting guitar drifting in and out, then it'd be for you.

Next up was Amelia Spicer, who did "Never Coming Home" and one of her own songs. Meh. Her vocals on the Case song were too breathy.

What happened next made me worry. It made me embarrassed that I had pimped this show to postcard.

Gary Heffern. If you ever see him on a bill, playing a show, and are curious as to what this is all about, after all his piano player used to be in The Motels, do yourself a favor and go, no run, away. You'd be better off viewing the tubgirl video. It was like William Shatner doing beat poetry and singing blues, but with no idea about things like harmony, rhythm and key. HORRIBLE. I turned to Bruce and apologetically said "this guy is horrible" He nodded.

Victoria Williams. Love her, hate her, you have to admit that she's a trip. She came on and played a few songs with Van Dyke Parks, Don Heffington (Lone Justice) playing a tambourine and a box that he sat on and thumped and a trombonist. I really enjoyed her set, but I think most of the crowd didn't. She did "This Land is Your Land" and I think she was channeling Woody. She never got around to playing the song that she contributed to the cd, "Drunkard's Harmony" would have been interesting.

There was a short break, and I went to get a soda and the cd, and feeling a bit disappointed in the show. I remembered that Missy from said
that she was going to be there, and I saw a woman that looked familiar from pcfh gallery or her website or something and introduced myself. It was her indeed, and she seemed quite lovely, and maybe a bit
creeped out that this strange guy seemed to know who she was.

The second half of the show was absolutely stunning: Starting with Marvin Etzioni playing piano, then mandolin. Then mandolin and a very loud bass drum.

He was joined by Victoria Williams on a song, and seemed surprised. So did she. She seemed to have accidentally wandered onto stage and spent about half the time singing harmony and the other half sorting through a handful of harmonicas, which she didn't didn't use for the song, save blowing one note.

Apparently, they were for the next song, which Peter joined them on. They blew the door off the joint with a rousing rendition of "Old Blue Car" Peter on piano, Etzioni on mandolin, Duane Jarvis. (Great guitar player and songwriter. Co-wrote Still I Long for Your Kiss with Lucinda Williams, played w/her for about 10 years) on guitar and Victoria on Harmonica. I though, and even said "that was worth the price of admission.

But they weren't over yet. Peter would look up the stairs between songs and squint, seemingly trying to remember who was next, and they invariably wouldn't be ready when he called, and there'd be some trotting up and down the stairs. This is what happened when it was Dave Alvin's turn. Dave finally came skittering down, and played one of his songs, told a story about how he used to drink more (really?) and would chug a pint of milk before shows so he wouldn't pass out, (Peter interjected that it really didn't help that much). At one gig that The Blaster's were playing with the Plimsouls, the bouncer wouldn't let him bring his milk in so he got indignant and cancelled
the show, then saw Peter and told him about it, and Peter threatened to pull the plug on the show unless Alvin could take in his milk. Dave, Peter and the fiddle player did the song they played on the Mississippi John Hurt tribute, and then "On My Way Downtown" Alvin's contribution to the cd.

Peter did a few of his songs from Beeline, including "Somethings Coming" as an audience sing along, which was interesting. "I Hear Your Voice, Everywhere I Go" was sweet.

More squinting up the stairs, and finally they found Lester Chambers who joined Case on piano with Alvin, Etzioni, the fiddle player, another guitarist, Duane Jarvis, a bass player. and ripped into "Time Has Come Today" with Lester on cowbell, and the entire crowd on the "Time!" interjections. Victoria Williams was grooving to the song on the stairs, and about halfway through, her trombone player came and had a seat on the stairs with his horn and added some riffs to the
song. Wow.

They did a blues song with Lester adding harmonica, and then turning to each of the guys on stage for them to take a solo. Duane Jarvis acquitted himself nicely on slide guitar.

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