*tap tap tap
Is this thing on?
Holy Crap! Can you believe it’s already mid-August?!? Where did 2017 go? I don’t know about you, but no matter how far away I get from formal schooling, September alwaysalwaysALWAYS feels like the beginning of the year.
So, how was everyone’s winter/spring/summer vacation? Did y’all get a glimpse of the eclipse? Did you don your space glasses? Hope those in the Path of Totality (my new band name, btw) enjoyed the weirdness during the brief bout of afternoon darkness. Original founder of this website, Frank had an enviable view of the rare celestial spectacle from the cockpit of a plane descending into Seattle airport. Cool, huh? Almost as cool as this incredible photo from the ISS.
Let’s take a minute to marvel at the amazing world in which we live, wherein people living in space can take a breathtaking photo and immediately post it on social media.
Let’s also marvel at the outstanding year our favorite foursome had! Almost one year to the day recording ended in Tornillo, TX, Graveyard Whistling was released to rave reviews.
The Old 97’s have never shied from that internal gray, but it’s never kept them from having a good time, either. Graveyard Whistling is a fitting title and apt image. It’s the work of a band finding complexity in apparent basics, and depth within its play.
Graveyard Whistling proves that even in the young man’s game of country rocking, growing older is no impediment to creating exciting, even exhilarating music that feels vital, fresh and dangerous.
Graveyard Whistling is the unpretentious, deep breath follow-up that is anything but a relaxing, post-tour coast. It’s rambunctious, loud rock and roll and it is just what the doctor ordered.
And here’s a very compelling read masterfully penned by our own Mr. Miller which starts off thusly:
There is the guy, and then there is the guy in the song. The guy has a real life—messy and convoluted, marked by devastation and success. The guy in the song has a single moment that exists within the framework of the song and in the imagination of the listener. The guy will die someday. The guy in the song lives forever. They are both deeply flawed.
He speaks of blurring the line between narrator and self, sitting alone in the back of the bus, writing All Who Wander.
You’re gonna want to read this Relix piece.
Most Messed Up was such a powerful, thematic album, it was a tough act to follow. But, man, did GW answer the call and then some. Such a strong, sound collection of work that Rhett has dubbed the hungover morning after MMU’s night of debauchery. The strength of this album propelled the 97’s to bust into Billboard’s top 10 rock chart for the first time ever and put them at #1 on the Americana chart!! Hot DAYUM!!!
The band performed on three networks within two weeks; Seth Meyers, Saturday Sessions on CBS, Conan on the West Coast, and in between, they embarked on their first ever Rock Cruise sponsored by Sirius Outlaw Radio. Rhett gave attendees a preview performance at the Sixth Man studios.
Here’s Good With God from their headlining show on the deck.
Back on terra firma, our fave Texans toured the West before heading back to Dallas for the 2nd annual Old 97’s County Fair. The ferris wheel was back, along with carnival games, artist booths and a photo camper. This year’s line up had YUUUGE talent, including The Jayhawks, Lucinda Williams and the incomparable Mavis Staples. Her set brought ALL of the VIP types out from backstage to drink in the power that is Mavis. When she departed the stage, EVERY performer took turns taking a selfie with this musical legend.
The evening culminated with a well-deserved proclamation of thanks from the State of Texas presented to the 97’s by the head of the Texas Music Office before our guys took the stage.
No word yet on the date for 2018, but plan on attending. This event has become a meeting of Wreckers far and wide. Seriously, you don’t want to miss this fair next year.
Speaking of Wreckers, a couple of our tribe have been brainstorming names for Old 97’s themed beer over on our Forum. Some of their suggestions so far are Big Brown Ale, Trainwreck (a dank, raucus double IPA), and Color of a Lonely Heart (blueberry ale). I don’t know, sounds like a fine idea for Old 97’s County Fair 2018.
The one and only, Miss Mavis Staples. The crowd was putty in her hands.
The guys brought out Heather Stalling on fiddle, John Pedigo on banjo, and Joe Butcher on pedal steel to add a different level of energy to House That Used To Be. Fantastic!
Throughout the tours so far this year, the band and/or Rhett visited a number of radio stations. Here are just a few:
Rockin’ out in Seattle at KEXP’s new facility:
and finally, a fab performance in the 412 (home of the back-to-back Stanley Cup winning Pittsburgh Penguins!) at WYEP
Ever the insightful interview, Rhett also took time out in Austin to have a thoughtful conversation with KUTX’s Elizabeth McQueen on her This Song podcast. Rhett’s choice will surprise you. The link to that convo is here.
And here’s a fun video of Nikki Lane and Rhett singing Good With God for KUTX in Austin back in May.
Here’s a little reward for your tenacity to sticking with this beast:
Murry picks up the interview baton to discuss libraries, Graveyard Whistling, and gratitude for his life in music.
“When I get onstage, I look at people and they’re so beautiful. You look at faces and see all the humanity in front of you … I’ll look at the crowd and see a face and it’s like seeing a painting. “That face, right there, that’s it! That’s the perfect face.” It’s so valuable. I’m happy and grateful that I’m in this life where that’s a part of my workday. I’ve had some shitty jobs in my life but that right there is part of my workday. The more you run into that the more you go, “Life is good.”
In the words of Sally Field, “He likes us! He really likes us!” So next time you’re in the front row, give Murry a little wave.
And last, but not least, I can’t end this missive without a giant shout out of thanks to our tech extraordinaire, Jason Garner for stepping out from behind the stage to step behind the kit when Philip was recovering from his frightening fall. You are an invaluable talent, friend and gem of a human. We all heart you bigly. Thanks, buddy!
Dates are out through October. Enjoy the waning days of summer. See y’all on the road!