Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Lords of Altamont - The Altamont Sin

The Altamont Sin (Gearhead Records)

Another blast from the past here, but at least it's from this century and considering what a dinosaur I am when it comes to musical taste, it might as well be hot off the presses. This album is pure destructo garage mayhem. All out, greasy, slag heap punk played at full throttle by these L.A. neanderthals. The Stoogian riffs, the junkyard metallic thud, and the reckless abandon make this a definite go to record for your next wild party.

The band has ex-members of The Bomboras and the Fuzztones among others; and if that's not enough to send you to Amazon or Ebay, or better yet your closest record store; then how about the fact that none other than Micheal Davis (R.I.P.) is the bass guitar player. If the pedigree of the MC5 and Destroy All Monsters doesn't impress ya then you've listened to one too many Dave Matthews Band albums.

I mean it's an election year and that means that the thing that you really need is something that will allow you to ignore the entire thing. Face it, all the guys and gals running for office (and even the ones that aren't) are so embarrassing and pathetic that they aren't even worth laughing at anymore. So get yourself some Lords of Altamont, burn your voter registration, start your own outlaw motorcycle gang, and live free.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Bob Dylan: Des Moines, Iowa 8/22/12

There was evolution in the air.

Bob Dylan has endured a lifetime of change, drifting in and out of the public's conscience with his whimsical lyrics and his ever changing progressions of music.

Like the ocean tides his songs have ebbed and flowed throughout his illustrious career, often to a point where an audience might deem them unrecognizable. While he might be singing the lyrics to "Tangled Up In Blue," the song he and his band are playing might sound nothing like the original version, or any other version that one might be used to. Many of the songs in his touring rotation have this effect; they have simply been tweaked to a point where, essentially they are entirely a new song altogether. They have become an alternate reality to their original versions - a shell to their former selves.

Photo by Sarah Cartwright

This is good or bad depending on who you talk to. Personally, I love the changes. If you are a stickler for perfection in terms of pitch, arrangement and tone, then a Bob Dylan concert is probably not for you.

Wednesday night his Never Ending Tour came through Des Moines and played to an estimated audience of 6500 people at the Wells Fargo Arena. The crowd was mired in silence throughout most of the night, although excitement seemed to get more rampant as the night progressed.

Aesthetically, it was an appreciative bunch, but it was hard to tell if they were getting the product that they had expected. I get the feeling that most enjoyed the "newer" version of his songs, but some didn't. He seemed to hold Love and Theft close to his heart, as he performed more songs off of this album than any other. Because it wasn't one of his greatest albums in a commercial sense, the choice of these songs might have cast a spell of stillness over the crowd.

Bob's voice has never been sharper, at least to these ears. His words pierced through the speakers like laser beams, while the music behind him delicately swirled throughout the arena. He has arrived at a point in his career where the lyrics he sings have the element of being half sung and half spoken. But nonetheless, his voice is still strong, and it undoubtedly contains that Dylanesque component that we have come to expect.

On both sides of the stage were large smoke machines that sent out occasional puffs, and within the lights, eerie shadows formed over the band as they played throughout the night. Dylan's band, like his music, has also undergone changes throughout his career. On this night he was anchored by Charlie Sexton who has played guitar with Bob on several tours, long time bassist Tony Garnier, and the multi-talented Donnie Herron who played the banjo and fiddle on occasion, but predominately the keyboards and steel guitar. Dylan also played electric piano, which created a crispier sound than did the Wurlitzer pump organ he played on the Fall leg of the tour last year.

The Iowa Events Center became a marketplace of dreams and riddles as he effortlessly made his way through his set list, and at times he incorporated different stylings into the mix. For instance, "Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum" had a fun and jazzy Ragtime beat to it, and on this night, "Simple Twist of Fate" was performed in a multitude of half steps. The latter was one of the songs that, if the listener was not aware of the words, could have gotten lost in translation. "Ballad of a Thin Man," of course had a strong element of Blues wrapped around it.

Dylan played a very busy version of "All Along the Watchtower" which made me think of local singer Jimmy Enos. In a strange musical illusion, Sexton's fuzzy guitar chops mixed with strange light patterns from above the stage, resembled the conditions of a psychological windstorm. I felt a cold breeze as the music swirled around my ears, much like the sensation I get when Stuttrin' Jimmy plays "Westward Winds" with the Goosebumps. It only lasted a second or two, but I did get that flash of excitement as it occurred.

Music is indeed a powerful force, as anyone who has experienced these mysteriums can tell you.

Photo by Cveckian (Click to enlarge)

Overall, it was a great concert. Seeing Bob Dylan is a prize in itself, but knowing that he is out there giving everything he's got each and every night at 71 years old puts a big smile on my face. Ultimately time is running out for many of our heroes... This sad fact should make any fan appreciate the essence of who Bob Dylan really is, and what his legacy means to the world of music.

When it comes to living musical icons, Mr. Dylan showed why he stands heads and shoulders above everybody else.

Set List:

Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat
Man in the Long Black Coat
Things Have Changed
Tangled Up In Blue
Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum
Sugar Baby
Summer Days
Visions of Johanna
High Water (For Charlie Patton)
Simple Twist of Fate
Highway 61 Revisited
Can't Wait
Thunder on the Mountain
Ballad of a Thin Man
Like a Rolling Stone


All Along the Watchtower
Blowing in the Wind


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Briar Patch to Come Back to Life this Weekend

One of Iowa's most beloved music destinations will bring it's stage to life again this weekend after taking a 24 month hiatus. The Briar Patch in Bevington, Iowa will host the two day event this Friday and Saturday. It will have a home-grown feel to it as it will showcase some of the brightest musical talent from around the state. Further enhancing is the fact that once again music lovers will have a magical place to gather and share the vibe, away from the steel wheels of the city.

The Hill Benders play at the Briar Patch Bluegrass Festival in 2010
(Photo by the Bigfoot Diaries)

For ten strong years the Briar Patch provided an intimate setting for central Iowa music lovers. Located directly on the border of Warren and Madison counties in Bevington, the Patch sits in an unlikely spot for a venue built and based upon traditional music values.

Up until the mid '80s it wasn't unusual for a concert venue to hold two or three nights of music in a row, while allowing camping on it's premises. People were prone to travel from city to city to follow such bands as the Grateful Dead, Ozric Tentacles, and Moe. Venues would set up to accommodate these die-hards, and massive parking lots were quickly converted into small camp villages.

Bonaroo, Summer Camp, and Coachella are a few that still hold events based off these old traditions. While the Briar Patch provides music on a much smaller scale, it still embeds the philosophy imagined by these larger stages... Come in, set up a campsite, have a good time, and most of all, enjoy the music.

Dead Larry on a luminated stage at the Patch in 2010
(Photo by Shelly Adelmund, click to enlarge)

"I'm looking forward to playing Briar Patch again," said Rich Cantrell, keyboardist for Cirrus Minor, who will be headlining Saturday night's show. "Some of the bands in the line up are guys we have played with before, but its been a while, so it will be cool to hang and share the stage again. The people that come out are great, passionate and supportive music lovers which makes for a great night of jammin'. Can't wait!"

The complete lineup is as follows:


Dave Zollo and the Body Electric  (11 PM - 2 AM)
The Highroller Express  (9 PM - 10:30 PM)
The Dark Royals  (7 PM - 8:30 PM)


Cirrus Minor  (11 PM - 2 AM)
Aquamarine Dream Machine  (9 PM - 10:30 PM)
Mighty Shady  (7 PM - 8:30 PM)
Public Property (4:30 PM - 6 PM)

The High Crest will play between sets on Saturday.

For Kat Darling and the High Crest, this will be the first time for them to play the Patch.

"It was great to be asked," she notes. "It is one of the coolest outdoor music festivals we have locally, and it's shaping up to be a big one. It takes a lot of commitment by the organizer, the bands and the fans to make this happen."

She is correct. If you are one of the thousands who have experienced the enchantment that this place offers, then you have seen first hand the hard work that owner Bob Rice puts into each of his shows. The Patch is a beautiful and rare place where live music meets the forested skyline and strangers don't exist. It's about as real a concert experience that one can have at a small music venue in and around the Des Moines area.

Justin Kurtz of Aquamarine Dream Machine at the Briar Patch in 2010
(Photo by Sarah Cartwright, used with permission)

On August 7th Bob celebrated his 10th year as the proprietor of the Briar Patch. It was a huge event, with the biggest local bands on the roster: Mooseknuckle, Mr. Baber's Neighbors: The Solar String Band, Floodplane, Truth B Told and Thankful Dirt as the headliner.

Apparently the night before, a couple of self-serving knuckle draggers sold some dope to some informants who were sent undercover from the local drug task force. Deeming Bob responsible, they swarmed in the next morning and raided his quiet little cabin in the woods. He figured he had nothing to fear, he didn't have any drugs on him, and he certainly wasn't responsible for the bad choices of others...

Boy, he was wrong.

Inside a purse of a female overnight guest, the police found a small amount of marijuana. She didn't claim responsibility for it, and for the cops that was enough evidence to take Bob to jail. The bail was set ridiculously high, in an obvious attempt by the Madison County authorities to keep Bob held without a chance of release. He was given a drug test, which he passed. He had no trace of any illegal substances in his body, and yet the prosecutor was determined to make Bob the example that Madison County is tough on drugs. He sat in jail for several months.

To make a long story short, Bob eventually got out of jail, paid his fines and is now working on a clean slate. Rather than rehash the events that led to the Patch's demise during the summer of 2010, Bob would instead like to push forward and work at rebuilding the traditions that were unexpectedly put on hold. He is re-energized and excited that once again, he is able to live his dream.

Gates open at 6:00 PM on Friday. The cost is $20 per person per day includes which includes camping. You can get a 2-day pass for $30. A wristband will be given at entry, and based on it's color you will be permitted to one or both nights of music. Leaving and coming back is permissible, assuming that the two-night wristband is always intact.

The rules are the same as they have been since day one.

You must be 18 to attend and 21 to drink alcohol. Everybody is expected to behave within the law and those who do not will be asked to leave. This is a BYOB event with no glass bottles allowed. Fires will be permitted assuming there isn't a burn ban in effect. A professional security staff will be in place to monitor the event.

"Basically we expect people to use their best judgement," said Bob. "That's not to say that people can't have fun. The security and expectations will be no different here than they are at any of the other music venues in town."

Having fun is the easy part. The Briar Patch has so much tradition and lore to build from that it's likely to forget that the layoff of 2011 ever happened. And now is a great time to start.

...Show me something built to last or something built to try. -Grateful Dead

Pertinent link:

Briar Patch on Facebook

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Power Of The Riff 2012- The Echo/Echoplex,Los Angeles CA,8/11/12

This is the 3rd annual Power Of The Riff at the Echo/Echoplex. I went to the first year,which was free and headlined by Corrosion of Conformity. One of the best shows I went to that year. 2nd year they actually started charging so I did not attend cause I'm a cheap bastard and was not big on the headliners. This years line up was really interesting but due to lack of funds I wasnt gonna go.But thanks to my good luck I won tickets as always and I think this show ended this great summer of shows with a bang. My life rules dude. Sadly Xaphan and Avon Ladies had to cancel. They both rule hard so please check em out. Lewd Acts replaced  Avon Ladies.
    First band was COPS. I cant find much info on them. All i know is that they're from San Francisco. They play Hardcore with Keyboards. They reminded me a lot of The Locust. They where the first band so they had a short set and very few people where there so not much of a reaction. I loved it tho. I'm gonna try to find way more info on these guys and hopefully see them again soon.

    For the 4th time this summer I saw Hordes. They are probably the most hard working band right now and thier reputation is getting bigger and more known. I can honestly say this performance was the best they've ever given(and I'm not just saying that cause Jose of ACxDC was on guest guitar). This year has been a really good one for Hordes and I'm sure they'll bring us more the next couple years. Great job guys,great fucking job.
  This fest makes you choose which bands to see like others so I chose wisely. I went to Echoplex(which is down stairs) to see Bio Crisis. This is D-Beat/Crust band from Tijuana,Mexico. And this band was pretty pissed off. I was really into it and so were a few others. Hopefully they come up here more often. They just released an EP called "En memoria al dolor". So check it out.
After Nausea (The LA Grind one,AKA the only one that matters) was next. I was super stoked to see em again cause last time I saw em in May they seriously blew me away. They played the same set I believe and people went nuts for the Terrorizer cover. They where one of my favorite bands of the day for sure and I hope to see em more times. Seriously LA Grinders/Death Metalheads need to see em ASAP. Hopefully we'll hear new music soon.
From Dallas,Texas came Thrash Metal's best kept secret,Power Trip. Tho they play really good Crossover Thrash they're mostly known in the Hardcore scene so of course all the HxC kids came out dancing and moshing hard. The friends I came with were super stoked for them and they didn't let us down. For fans of Thrash and Hardcore alike I HIGHLY recommend this band. They're on tour right now so go see em. Check out their S/T 7 inch. Real new modern Thrash done right. No poser shit.
LA HxC band Alpha & Omega was up. Ive been wanting to see them for a while. The first song they started with was this really heavy ass song that made two big ol buff guys dance like crazy. It ruled fuckin hard. Great new modern HxC for fans of Leeway,Biohazard,and of course Cro-Mags. Check out their album Life Swallower.
The craziest band that day was Hoax. I missed em last time they came on tour from Massachusetts. So I'm glad I had chance to catch em this time. As soon as they hit the first note the place erupted. I was thrown into into the other side of the room. People were screaming their lungs off. The frontman who was the skinny bald man who kept hitting his head with a microphone til he bled like crazy. It was seriously one set that you just stare at and be amazed. They ruled. I REALLY need to see em again right away. They have 3 EP's all S/T. Get on that shit. This is insane. Holy shit.
Lewd Acts played and had a big crowed surrounding them. I didn't enjoy em. Sorry guys. I hear a lot of good stuff about their first album but this set wasn't so great.
I ain't gonna lie,I was stoked that I wont those tickets mainly because it l was able to see Despise You for the 3rd time. And everyone knows they only play like once a year so of coarse I didn't wanna miss em. Right away I put my glasses away and got upfront. I saved my energy all day for em and I was planning to lose it. First song played and me and 10 other dudes got on stage to sing a long. After jumping off I got back upfront and sang my ass off with 100 other pissed off kids. Its no surprise that Despise You may indeed be the most pissed off band in the world. They played my favorite song "Roll Call" and I got on stage to sing along but I went 10 seconds too early before the singing part so I looked stupid so i just jumped off. I actually ended up going in the pit for that song(and you know me I never freakin dance). More songs where played and more songs I screamed my ass off including a FEAR cover of "I Don't Care About You". During the song "Cedar Ave." I got so into it I danced around the pit. I said it once and ill say it again,DESPISE YOU IS THE GREATEST BAND IVE SEEN LIVE THIS YEAR. Now I don't care if you don't listen to Powerviolence or let alone Punk Rock, you need West Side Horizon/And On and On..... in your music section ASAP. This is Powerviolence at its finest. Oh and it turns out guitar player Phil Vera(also of Crom) attended my aunts wedding. Crazy huh?
 So it seems every year I see Grindcore pioneers Repulsion. This is their 2nd year playing POTR and my 3rd time seeing them for free. I tried to get up front but then some big dude knocked my glasses off,had a Scooby-Doo moment trying to find my glasses,and when I did a lense was a missing. So I stood in the back pissed off. Anyways,they played their usual sick set. A grumpy and blind me was in the side singing a long to Maggots In A Coffin,Black Breath,and Horrified. They where great as usual. I told you 3 times already to get Horrified in your collection.
 The headliner I was most excited for was The legendary Dr. Know. A  version of Dr. Know with original singer,Kyle Toucher reunited this year,and it was a big fuckin deal. I missed em when they played here so this was my chance to see em again,I was stoked. They started with "God Told Me To"and the place erupted. They played more songs off Wreckage Of Flesh. Then more old skool Punk songs like Life Returns,Circle Of Fear,and of course the greatest Nardcore song ever written,Mr. Freeze. Singing a long to Kyle Toucher's Dr. Know was something I've always wanted to do. Both versions of Dr. Know rule hard but nothing will ever beat Touchers. Listen to Plug-In Jesus and Burn. From there check out The Island Earth and Wreckage Of Flesh. Please go see Kyles Dr. Know . Its seriously one of the best Punk performances I've ever seen.
Punk Rock super group OFF! took on stage and had kids singing like crazy. We all sang a long and Keith Morris kept talking on how stoked he was to be on this. They played most of the First 4 EPs and songs from the new album. They played a great decent set but after seeing Dr. Know it was hard to get super into it. Nevertheless go see em damn it. They're amazing dude,they really are but I was too pooped.
This is the part where everyone gets mad at me. I did not stay for Sunn O))). Yes i know they're a big deal and never come. Yes I totally regret missing them even tho I hate slow music but fuck i was tired. My best bud in King Kattans Blog posted a review so ill post his. Thanks for letting me post this dude <3.
   I wanted to leave for being so tired, but I was very curious about Sunn o))), the band that is involved with Power of the Riff plus the band has not played a show in years. I've listened to their music and it is.....interesting. It is known to be doom metal/drone/experimental. My friend let me borrow a cd from them and I actually liked it; a 5 years ago I would say that this is garbage and not even music, but now I appreciate for what it is. I was found a place to sit which was near a merch booth because I was really tired and this band is something that you have to feel according to people who have seen Sunn o))). They took a while to actually start and kept teasing the crowd. After 20 minutes of waiting again, they started. Not trying to be sarcastic or making fun of them, but their music gave the best back massages. The vibrations of the music was neat. I tried to see the band, but it was too foggy and all I saw were 2 black figures. People were starting to leave during their set (I guess they didn't know what to expect from them at all). After a half hour of hearing the same thing over and over again, I left. I was getting hungry again and needed to see if my car wasn't towed (I'm paranoid with parking in Los Angeles). I was bummed I didn't get to hear those dark vocals but oh well. See this band if you have a chance, and if you like to use drugs or feel strange vibrations OR if you're a huge drone fan.
 And there you have it. This years Power Of The Riff ruled hard and it ended my summer with a bang. Check out all these bands. This line up was very diverse and I think thats what made the fest rule the most. I had so much fun. Thanks for reading as always.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Five Questions with... Russell Quan

Okay... Actually four questions.

It's not an easy task getting Russell Quan to open up. He's rock and roll royalty, being in one of the coolest bands to ever take the stage, and he acts like I've wasted my time pursuing an interview with him. If I didn't know better I'd think that he thought of his band, The Mummies as a parody act. Not one to be taken seriously. The only thing wrong with that idea is the fact that The Mummies are stuff of legend.

The Mummies (Photo courtesy of their website)

Formed in San Mateo, California in 1988, The Mummies immediately began to make their mark as one of the premier garage bands on the west coast. The original band consisted of Trent Ruane (organ, vocals), Maz Kattuah (bass), Larry Winther (guitar) and Russell Quan (drums). They introduced the genre "Budget Rock" and tour and play exclusively with outdated and worn equipment. They tour in a hearse; also outdated, emblazened with THE MUMMIES (spray painted) on the side. They dress in  tattered mummy outfits. They kick serious ass.

Their music is as primitive as the equipment they use. It's crunchy and raw, and indelibly catchy. It's on that rare shoreline where surf meets bubblegum. It's garage rock in it's purest form, the kind that invaribly gets the cops called. It's beautiful and dangerous, and without a doubt groovier than anything you are currently listening to.

When you click onto their website, you are met with this greeting:

The Mummies were a stupid band.

This is their stupid website.

You cared about them enough to get this far.

Now you are stupid too.

That's the Mummies' curse.

I emailed Russell Quan in February asking him for an interview. His response was short and to the point:

"you forget im nobody remember? ha ha!"

Then he added his own question:  hows troy?."

I wrote him back and explained to him that I was doing fine, and assuming that he was flashing me the green light, proceded to send him some questions. Several weeks later, he wrote me back.

"ha ha thanks mr Troy! we stil screwing around playing 'music' har de har."

My questions went unanswered. So I sent them again. And this time, I got a response to four of them.

Over a span of about 8 weeks.

Russell Quan doesn't mince words. In fact he rarely uses them. Still though, that's what makes this interview so great. I challenge you to find one anywhere else.


What is the official status of The Mummies?


What is your all time favorite memory of touring with the Mummies?

When I missed out on the tour with Headcoats and Bruce Brand shit his trousers.

Who designed the costumes, and how did they stay on?

Eddie Bauer, and Elmer's glue.

What do you think of the "other" group who stole your concept, Here Comes The Mummies?

I feel sorry for anyone who might get those two mixed up! Ha ha ha!

Budget Rock... A genre all it's own.


Pertinent links:

The Mummies Official

The Mummies Facebook

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Review: September's The Beginning of the End...

Coming from a guy who wants nothing to do with anything Slipknot influenced, September’s debut self-titled release really took me by surprise. I do the best I can to be an unbiased Des Moines scene supporter and after hearing this album, I’m ready to check out a live show. This album went way above my expectations with the song orchestrations and overall production. I drove to Omaha, on the way to recording my own album, listening to September’s album The Beginning of the End of All Things Beautiful and was really blown away with how good this album is.

The Beginning Of The End Of All Things Beautiful
(Cover art done by Jason Handy)
My expectations at first were that I was going to hear something outdated, as in angry metal from the mid 1990s to mid 2000s. September is a group that I can tell is influenced by today’s radio commercial metal. I expected mediocre mixing and mastering on the album as well because not all bands out there are well versed in home recording, and they sometimes pay other recording engineers for a subpar mixing and mastering job. Clearly this wasn’t the case.

At first when hitting play, it sounds like trance music and then the music gets heavier and heavier. When the vocals come in, it sounds like music that is ready to be heard on the radio. I can’t exactly figure out what mainstream band September sounds like (maybe Drowning Pool or Coal Chamber), but I will say whatever that band is—add influence from Nine Inch Nails, KMFDM, and Depeche Mode. These aforementioned influences make September stand out more. I listen to a lot of progressive and symphonic metal and September’s synth orchestration makes their music more attractive, especially since I’m not into “nu-metal” at all.

The songs “Please”, “Scars”, “Trigger Shy”, and “Evol” were what I consider the hot spots on this album. September covered the Nine Inch Nails song “Head Like A Hole” and nailed it dead on. If there are any local listeners who are into Nine Inch Nails, check out this cover—you will not be disappointed. There was only one song that I didn’t care for too much and it is the song “Lashing Out”. This song utilizes auto-tune vocals and I don’t feel this band needs auto-tune to begin with. I listen to bands like Cynic and Scar Symmetry who do use auto-tune for backup vocals (like in a vocal harmony), but not in the fashion that most hip hop stars use it. Don’t let this one song ruin the album for you though. It’s a very solid album worth looking into if are local in Des Moines or are into industrial metal.

-Reviewed and written by Mr. Clean.


Pertinent links:

September on ReverbNation

September on Facebook

Meet Mr. Clean

We've added a new writer to the Bigfoot Staff. He's a talented musician that can apply his technical knowledge to the articles he writes and the albums he reviews. He'll bring a whole new dynamic to the Bigfoot Diaries. When it comes to '80s style metal and bands of that ilk, he is the Des Moines GURU.

Mr. Clean

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bob Patton: Liar's Club

Drawn exclusively for the Bigfoot Diaries by Bob Patton
(Click on image to enlarge)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Kris Kristofferson: Hoyt Sherman Theater 8/3/2012

The Hoyt Sherman Theater in Des Moines hosted an American music icon this past Friday night.

Kris Kristofferson  walked out onto the stage at 7:30 with his guitar strapped to his chest. With a slight nod and a gallant smile he dove into his first song of the night, a self-loathing ballad from his 1986 release, Repossessed called "Shipwrecked in the '80s".

It's a dire song about lost love but it's composition is beautiful, and Mr. Kristofferson finger picked his guitar beautifully around the words, presenting it as delicately as it was recorded on the album. It set the tone for a wonderful night of music as he played for almost two hours, encompassing music from his entire career.

Kris Kristofferson at Hoyt Sherman in Des Moines
(Photo by Sarah Cartwright)

Though he saved many of the classics for the second set, each song he played was met with spellbound fascination. The nearly full auditorium sat in gazed silence as he painted a picture with his captivating lyrics, presenting each verse like a line in a movie.

At times he seemed majestic and had no obvious problems hitting the ranges and the timings in his songs. But other times he seemed to struggle a bit with the lyrics - but only once or twice - and it never became a factor. One could tell that he knew these songs inside and out, and it was interesting to hear the natural evolution that these tracks have taken over the years.

"Me and Bobby McGee", was introduced with the mention of Janis Joplin, the late great singer who made it famous. On this song and a few others throughout the night, Kristofferson only played the first verse of the piece and the chorus, before cutting it short.

Perhaps he's performed "Bobby McGee" so many times throughout his career, that he simply gets bored playing it. Whatever his reasoning, the crowd reacted as if they didn't even notice. (I'm wondering if they did?)

Late in the first set, during "Loving Her was Easier (Then Anything I'll Ever Do Again)" he stopped well short of the finished song, even asking the crowd, "Did I forget to play the bridge?" The crowd laughed and applauded anyway, as if hypnotized by the legend before them.

I got the feeling that he could have sang the lyrics in Swahili and nobody would have raised an eyebrow.

While he did occasionally have these quaint missteps; once even with the right choice of harmonica ("Oops that's the wrong key," he said), other times he came across as brilliant. One such time was when he handled the busy words to "Casey's Last Ride" with ease, never once breaking time. It's a tough song, lyrically. It's one of those numbers written in the old country vein in which the singer speaks most of the words, and it's timing has to be absolutely perfect for it to be performed effectively. Mr. Kristofferson pulled it off without a glimpse of failure, picking his guitar masterfully alongside the spoken verse.

Another display of spontaneous levity came early in the 2nd set when a fan shouted out a request for "Sky King."

"Why not?" asked Kristofferson, instantly picking it out on his guitar.

"Sky King" is a comedic song is about a helicopter pilot who, having trouble getting his bird off the ground, uses the super human force of puckering his butt to suck the chopper up. It is a cult favorite that was only released on the 2003 live album, Broken Freedom Song: Live from San Fransisco. This song was, in a way, a turning point for the night, as Mr. Kristofferson and the crowd seemed to loosen up a bit after it was played.

Well he pushed that collective on down through the floor
But the damn rotorblade wouldn't turn anymore
So his butt puckered up and with a frightening sound
He just sucked that old chopper up off of the ground, Sky King

The ship wasn't hurt but it took half the class
To get the seat cover out of Sky King's ass, Sky King

He finished the song and a few people stood and cheered, but it was the next song that gained the most applause of any song during the night, "The Pilgrim (Chapter 33)."

Depending on the night it's played, "Pilgrim" is a song written about Dennis Hopper, or Ramblin' Jack Elliott, or Johnny Cash, or Jerry Jeff Walker or any of the other characters that Kris has become friends with during his extensive musical career. Whomever it bios, it is one of Country Music's great songs and one of Kristofferson's finest. As it concluded, The Hoyt Sherman Theater came alive with a thunderous ovation.

(Photo by Sarah Cartwright)

He played his hits too of course, from "Jody and the Kid" to "To Beat the Devil" to "Sunday Morning Coming Down." He opened the second set with a rare version of "Jesus Was a Capricorn," a song that's only recently been reintroduced into his repertoire. One particular moment that stands out is when he played "This Old Road," a song that he said he wrote after Waylon Jennings died in 2002. It was a touching tribute that once again captured the crowd.

"Love is the Way" was also captivating, with it's persuasive lyrics calling for a better world. It's words are timeless, and are delivered with foreboding clarity:

Now the warriors are waving their old rusty sabres
The preachers are preaching the gospel of hate
By their behaviour determined to teach us
A lesson we're soon to be learning too late

As the lessons we learned from the civil rights movement of the '60s seem to become more and more of a footnote, "Love is the Way" is a simple approach to building a solution. At the very least it's a grim reminder of what this country's dark side stands for.

Mr. Kristofferson seemed reflective in the delivery of his songs, and it seemed fitting that he closed the second set with "For The Good Times," a song from his very first album that deals with a pending separation. As he sang, "Lets be glad that we had this time together", the audience cheered, obviously still completely captivated by this iconic figure onstage before them. Once again the crowd stood in thunderous applause as he finished the song, said good night, and vanished into the darkness behind the stage.

It was only momentary. With his guitar still strapped to his chest, he reappeared almost instantly and broke into a song he wrote, recorded, and gave to Willie Nelson called "Moment of Forever."

Afterwards somebody in the crowd shouted to play "Why Me" which Kris responded to with a playful, "Not yet."

He then played "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends" a song written by Kristofferson but performed by Ronnie Milsap. (Kristofferson later recorded a version with Mark Knopfler for The Austin Sessions CD.)

Then, the figure in the crowd got his wish. Kristofferson ended the night with a slow and beautiful version of what may be his signature song, "Why Me." It was the perfect ending to what amounted to about an hour and a half performance by one of the greats. As he walked off the stage for the final time he paused for a second, as if he was overcome with indecision.

He then waved and disappeared into the shadows.


Set List (Based off memory)

Shipwrecked in the '80s
Darby's Castle
Me and Bobby McGee
Best of All Possible Worlds
Here Comes that Rainbow Again
Help Me Make It Through the Night
Casey's Last Ride
Nobody Wins
God Almighty Here I Am
Loving Her Was Easier
From Here to Forever


Jesus Was a Capricorn
Just the Other Side of Nowhere
Jody and the Kid
Sky King
The Pilgrim (Chapter 33)
To Beat the Devil
This Old Road (tribute to Waylon)
Sunday Morning Coming Down
Silver Tongued Devil
Love is the Way
For the Good Times


Moment of Forever
Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends
Why Me


Pertinent links:

Kris Kristofferson's Official

Hoyt Sherman Theater

Thursday, August 2, 2012

On the Bus with the Steep Canyon Rangers

Back in June, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers played a sold out show at the Civic Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Cveckian and I were invited onto the bus to meet the band and to ask a few questions.

They were extremely cordial and spent most of a half hour with us talking to us about life on the road, working with Steve Martin, and the origins of the band's name. We also talked about time in the studio, and how Paul McCartney came to sing a song on the Rare Bird Alert CD. And of course later that night they blew us away onstage. Check out the review here.  

Enjoy the interview with Woody Platt and the Steep Canyon Rangers: