April 4, 2011

Concert #587 - Dave Alvin, Chris Smither & Peter Case at McCabe's Guitar Shop (April 3, 2011)

Posters in the window at McCabe's
A rare triple-header at McCabe's, featuring three of the very best. I caught the 7 PM show. There was a late show as well, both had sold out much in advance. The show was great, but ... yes, there was a "but" ... after having seen the three protagonists perform separately countless times, I can say that in this case, the "whole" was smaller than the sum of its parts. Let me explain.

They all shared the stage and took turns at performing their numbers - when one of them went to work, the other two were simply watching. They sang four songs each, they all pitched in on a few more, then the show was over. In plain English, the concert was short, very short. I had seen many musicians delivering much longer sets all by themselves. Four songs from Dave, then four more from Chris and Peter left me wanting for much more.

From L to R: Rick Shea, Dave Alvin, Chris Smither, Peter Case

The concert started with an instrumental version of Elizabeth Cotten's "Freight Train", followed by Dave Alvin's "Down The Rio Grande", a song he co-wrote with Tom Russell. Dave's second song was "Black Rose Of Texas", a gorgeous ballad dedicated to the late Amy Ferris, one of his long-time musical collaborators. In response to a request, Dave followed up with "King Of California", then rounded up his set with the outstanding "Harlan County Line".

Dave Alvin
Chris Smither's first song was "Don't Call Me Stranger", followed by "I Don't Know", a funny song inspired by his adopted daughter, "Surprise, Surprise" and "Train Home". My impression was that he held back a bit - I had seen him displaying much more guitar virtuosity in earlier appearances.

Chris Smither

Peter Case was in excellent form, but sadly, I don't know the titles of any of his songs. One of them was a Ledbelly-written prison song, another one mentioned "Pig Nation", his band during his pre-Plimsouls years, but that's about all I remember.

Peter Case

The show ended with "Railroad Bill", a team effort, then for the encore they all sang "Casey Jones". There were plenty of fun stories between the songs. Rick Shea provided good support on guitar and mandolin throughout the show.

The day started with the sweet new sounds of Sara Lynn, my second grand-child, born just before 9 AM.

Sara Lynn, four-hours old
Todd and Lynn, Sara Lynn's other set of grand-parents, were my guests for the show. It was their first time at McCabe's and they loved it.

Lynn and Todd in line at McCabe's

Peter Case reporting to work at McCabe's

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