Wait, Trey did what?
That’s right, everyone’s favorite red-headed guitarist Trey Anastasio wrote the music for a recent musical, Hands on a Hardbody, based on the 1992 documentary of the same name. The plot of the musical revolves around a contest held in 1960’s Texas in which contestants try to win a truck by keeping their hand on a truck for the longest period. The score of this musical, like Phish in the music industry, is unique to other Broadway musicals. To me this reflects on the musical writing style of Anastasio, which impressively enough got him a Tony nomination for best music (not bad for a first timer).
Unlike most musicals on Broadway, Hands on a Hardbody has a southern feel to it. Most of the songs have a country theme to it, with an influence of blues and rock as well. There is definite variety within the soundtrack, with different musical theme for a song depending on the character singing it. Two other unique rarities in this musical that I attribute to Anastasio, which really separate Hands on a Hardbody from the rest of Broadway, is that a couple songs are actually acapella. Also, three of the songs in the musical, “Alone with Me,” “It’s a Fix,” and “Joy of the Lord,” are reprised again at a later point, instantly reminding me of Tweezer Reprise. Two of the songs, “My Problem Right There,” and “Burn That Bridge,” I already knew quite well, because the Trey Anastasio Band has performed it on their tour in 2011. To have known those two songs for 2 years and hearing them now placed within the context of a musical was probably one of the stranger moments for my song listening history, but in no way is that a bad thing. It’s also worth noting the guitar riff in the opening track, “Human Drama Kind of Thing,” brought me to an urge to groove along as if I was dancing in the rain again at Summer Camp to TAB’s Mr. Completely.
- Human Drama Kind of Thing
- If I Had This Truck
- If She Don’t Sleep
- My Problem Right There
- Alone With Me
- Burn That Bridge
- I’m Gone
- Uncontrollable Laughter
- Joy of the Lord
- Hunt With the Big Dogs
- Hands on a Hardbody
- Born in Laredo
- Alone With Me Reprise
- It’s a Fix
- Used to Be Me
- It’s a Fix Reprise
- God Answered My Prayers
- Joy of the Lord Reprise
- Keep Your Hands on It
- The Tryers (Bonus Track)
On March 7th, I went to the Old Rock House in St. Louis to catch the second stop of the Big Damn Revolution tour, which was headlined by Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. When I first walked in, the Rev’s opener Jimbo Mathus had just started his set with his band called the Tri-County Coalition. Jimbo is also the front man of the swing/jazz band Squirrel Nut Zippers. Although, he played a rockin’ blues style of music with his band the Tri-State Coalition and mostly played tracks off of his new album “White Buffalo.” Here’s a pic of their performance…
After Jimbo’s set, I tracked him down and talked to him for a little bit. Then I asked him if he wouldn’t mind taking a picute with me holding up a picture of my brother since he couldn’t make it and is a big fan of his, and he was more than happy to oblige. Here’s the pic…
Next, my friend Alicia and I snagged a spot in the front row just as the members of Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band strolled on stage. The band includes The Rev himself on steel guitar, electric guitar, and 3-string cigar box guitar; Breezy (the Rev’s wife) on washboard; and Aaron “Cuz” Persinger (a distant cousin of the Rev) on drums. Cuz’s unique drum kit even includes an upside-down 5 gallon bucket! Here’s a few pics from their set…
The Rev is so talented that he even plays bass while is playing guitar! This is a technique that is a dying art form, but few still keep it alive. The Rev then showed the crowd his talent by first playing bass on the lower string with his thumb and then played the melody at the same time with his other fingers. I’ve seen Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn band 3 other times, and I always forget that the Rev is multi-tasking during every song. The show continued on and they played several songs off of their album Between the Ditches. They also played some of my favorites such as “Mama’s Fried Potatoes”, “Your Cousin’s on Cops”, “Clap Your Hands”, and then they ended the show with an encore of their song “Two Bottles of Wine” with Jimbo Mathus and his band. Here’s a pic of them singing together…
My friend and I finished off the night in catching some autographs and pictures with Rev and his wife Breezy. Then I parted from them by saying “See ya at Summer Camp!” and they seemed surprised to see that someone from one of their city shows was going to see them at a festival and then they said “Yeah! I think we’re playing Thursday!”
It’s always a great boot stomping time seeing Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band and I can’t wait to see them at Scamp! They’re an act not to be missed!
If you’re from Missouri or Illinois, I’m sure you’ve heard of or have seen Aaron Kamm and the One Drops. They are an act that no reggae, blues, or jam band lover should miss! AKOD have been around for over 4 years and have 3 studio albums out titled The Bomb and the Beast, grow, and gnu-gnu. I have all 3 albums, so if you want to check them out just ask me! Aaron Kamm himself plays guitar in which he shreds the most intense blues solos and is lead vocals with his soulfully smooth voice. The One Drops include the talented Andy Lee Dorris on bass and the Sean Raila on drums who plays beats faster than you can say “one drops!” They tend to play a couple times a month in St. Louis making them a key staple to the ever growing St. Louis music scene. They also have played several smaller festivals in Missouri and Illinois, and hit up Edwardsville, IL, Columbia, MO and Carbondale, MO at least once a month. I’ve seen them way too many times to coun, but my favorite time seeing them was in southern Missouri at Bearcat Getaway campground after a long day of floating. This is one band that I definitely would watch in 2013 since their shows are getting more and more packed by the month. So if you like reggae, blues, jam, and love to dance, then I suggest you get yourself to one of their shows soon! If you want to a taste of their sound, click here!
Inspiration takes many forms. What motivates one musician may tire and bore the next. While Lera Lynn and the Wood Brothers primary motivator surely is bringing heartfelt music to the masses, one thing they also share is a healthy obsession with whiskey. Whether the Lion’s Pride Rye helped whet the whistle of Ms. Lynn, or let’s Chris perform his interpretive dance moves any easier is for the audience to judge. However, a few things were laid on the line the day after Halloween when they played Chicago’s Lincoln Hall. Foremost, these performers formed for a 8 night tour in November a symbiotic relationship nary seen these days on a bill. They seemed to feed off the energy and genuine good nature which made what went down all that more special for those in attendance.
Lera Lynn set list: Happy Ever After, Comin’ Down,I’m Your Fool,Refrain,The Frey,Fly,You & Me Alone, Bobby, Baby, Standing on the Moon
Lera Lynn, the darling from Athens, GA can play her custom converted ’57 Kay acoustic like she sold a piece of her soul to a fiddle playing Beelzebub. Her slender frame hides a powerful voice that carried over the hushed crowd of four hundred respectful Chicagoan’s. There were no catcall’s, only appreciation for a throwback to a different era. One that is undoubtedly popular, but increasing removed from the radio scene which is a shame. June Carter, Patsy Cline, Lera Lynn? She is that talented and at the same time bashfully humble. She jested to the crowd what a treat it was to play with the Brothers Wood due to their unknowing grandeur and renown. Modest to a fault she sings about feelings larger than herself, but that have touched her profoundly in her short time on earth. The good one’s can pull a lyric from a simple chord much like a wizard in a Potter movie pulls a memory from the ear of a student at Hogwart’s.
Rocking back in forth in her high heeled boots and knee length dress she is comfortable engaging people and letting them see a glimpse. It could be the drinks ordered from her adoring fans sent stage side that loosens her lips, but she quickly finds a melody and like her journey to date elevates to echelons normally not expected to be heard from a potty mouthed bourbon drinking southerner. Yes, she curses like a sailor but where it could be thought crass on some for some reason it isn’t this night. The dichotomy in stage presence and song penmanship aside the women has a way about her and captures the ear and eye of all in the room as they gaze at a concoction of sassy sweet and sultry sounds. The name of her recent album “Have You Met Lera Lynn?” begs a worthy question. If not I suspect you will soon. Her cracked rear view mirror isn’t as omnipotent as Hootie’s, but her busted front windshield and tour with the Wood Brothers should make her a household name soon enough.
Wood Brothers set list: Sing About It, Up Above My Head, Atlas, Pay Attention, Twisted, Neon, Postcards From Hell, Spirit, Honey Jar, Fox On The Run, I Got Loaded, Mary Anna, One More Day, Glad, Down, Shoofly Pie. E: Luckiest Man, PYT (w/ Lera Lynn)
The Wood Brothers, Chris and Oliver, brought their soulful sibling harmonization as well as their shiutar player, Jano Rix, to the friendly confines of Lincoln Hall for the night. Although they now call New York and Atlanta their respective home these days their roots as well as instrumentation track back to growing up in Boulder. Bluesy folk goodness emanates from Chris’ upright bass as he tells the crowd that Chicago truly is his favorite town. There is Oliver jesting “there he goes”, but there’s an tone of honesty in his voice just like the music that makes even the most skeptical mind believe.
On “Postcards from Hell” lyrics tell of a bluesman who won’t flinch in the eye of temptation and plays his music for the necessities in life and sheer desire. The song epitomizes what I can only believe was a man the brothers came across in the travels and found in him a kindred spirit to which they could relate.
“You never heard a soul so pure and true
It’s flowin’ right out of his hands
He can sing sweet as a choir girl
Or he can sing a house on fire
I’ve seen him callin’ up the angels
And use a breeze for a telephone wire”
If the brothers are the personification of whiskey drinking angels then its the perfect juxtaposition to the openers “cursory” notes. Although you know its not as easy as it seems the chord progressions and time changes effortlessly synch perfectly like the brothers knew they were meant to travel the land spreading good music throughout.
If your faith is still undetermined then Oliver has some advice for you…give it “One More Day”. It’s during this ditty that he and Chris let loose during a solo portion and let the music take them as they take turns using their bass and guitar respectfully as dance partners. Chris straddles his upright as Oliver takes a solo and crouches down like the music is in his gut trying to get out and find a good home.
It’s clear that this is their congregation. During the encore they bring out a cover of ”Pretty Young Thing” performed aptly with the backing vocals of Lera Lynn complete with whiskey in tow. When these brothers were young they were prodigies in the company of mentors. Now that they are settling into life, but still young at heart, its apparent that like fine whiskey their music is getting better with age.