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Twangfest report

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  • Carl Zimring
    I got to hang out with a few of the folks on this list in St. Louis over the past few days for Twangfest. Saying I had a fantastic weekend is an
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 10, 2002
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      I got to hang out with a few of the folks on this list in St. Louis over
      the past few days for Twangfest. Saying I had a fantastic weekend is an
      understatement along the lines of saying Fairbanks gets cold in January. A
      huge thank you to the Twang Gang for programming a marvelous, eclectic
      bunch of performers.

      The first couple of nights seem like about a hundred years ago, but from
      what I remember, Lonesome Bob kicked ass, and provided one of the week's
      sweetest moments when he prefaced his verse "I have a girlfriend but we're
      not in love" with the disclaimed "this next bit is a total lie". I hope
      his take on "Patches" was recorded, as it's even better than the one on
      _Things Change_. Slobberbone rocked the house, and Fred F. soundchecking
      his spoons prior to, um, jamming on "Lazy Guy" was one of the goofier
      moments of the week.

      That stuff happened B.C. On to A.D. Friday night was my musical
      highlight, and a perfect example of the variety and quality of Twangfest.
      The Sovines (augmented by Mark Wyatt on organ and fiddler-about-town Erin
      Snyder) started the night off with a tight set of trucking songs. Kelly
      Hogan followed with a typically delightful set of her country-soul.
      Illuminating the disco ball during her gorgeous take on the Magnetic
      Fields' "Papa Was a Rodeo" was a perfect touch.

      After Hogan, the evening kicked into high gear. Tommy Womack played a
      balls-out arena rock show to a small club, ending with an amazing version
      of "Little Bit of Sex" that incorporated a hilarious account of Gene
      Simmons's aftershow habits at KISS concerts. The song/monologue reminded
      me of what the Ass Ponys did last year. Tremendously entertaining, and we
      wondered how the hell anyone could follow him.

      The next act blew Womack off the stage. Calvin Cooke's Sacred Steel
      Ensemble was the musical highlight of my week and my year to date. Cooke's
      quartet featured his amazing pedal steel riffs, a female vocalist who was
      more a part of the rhythm section than a frontwoman, an insanely
      down-in-the-groove-picking-on-polyrhythms rhythm guitarist and one of the
      best drummers I have ever heard. Jaws hung agape at his ability to keep
      time, serve the music and absolutely beat the living daylights out of his
      kit. He hit the drums so hard that the kit looked like a heart beating,
      yet not a single note seemed gratuitous. Afterwards, I heard comparisons
      to Keith Moon and Elvin Jones; I heard a young Art Blakey if James Brown
      had hired Blakey. I'm not one for drumming clinics, but I would have paid
      to hear this guy play alone. Hearing him in the context of Cooke's
      otherworldly riffs, laying down a rhythmic foundation with the guitarist
      was one of those rare transcendental musical experiences I live for. They
      played a mantra-like, hypnotic piece with the repeated lyric "I Want to Get
      to Heaven" that was so beautiful that when it ended I realized I'd been
      weeping. The set seemed to be over in two minutes. I could have heard
      them play until dawn.

      James Intveld followed Cooke. I remember thinking he sounded good though I
      was so overwhelmed by the last act I don't remember much more than that as
      I slumped against the side wall and caught my breath. I do remember
      Intveld doing some good picking at the afterhours party that night.

      One Riot One Ranger (a.k.a. The Dead Ramones) worked covers of the Hollies,
      Roky Erickson and -- bless 'em considering the bad news of the week -- the
      Ramones into their set, though my favorite moment was when Mark Wyatt
      corrected his lyrics in the middle of a sternum-thumping bellow on "Working
      on a Building". Ow! How do you do that, Mark? That was followed by more
      beautiful singing by Christy McWilson. The Morrells turned the evening
      into a frat party and provided sympathetic backing to Dallas Wayne's
      honkytonk. Billy Joe Shaver closed down the Duck Room entertainment with a
      loose run though some classics and some fine new songs that were clearly
      (and painfully) about his son.

      I'm slowly assimilating back into normal life, even getting to sleep before
      2am. Jen tells me the coughing/snoring/getting the crap out of my lungs
      even subsided after about an hour. If I can get my voice into shape before
      tonight's show I'll have achieved all my goals for the day.

      running on fumes and delighted to do so,
      Carl Z.
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