Sunday, June 27, 2004

In Which I Out Myself as a Country Music Fan

Yesterday I went with Marianne, Stephen, Tiffany and Michelle to the Taste of Chicago/Country Music Festival (somehow the two run concurrently, in the same place, but are not the same thing) to see Buddy Miller and The Flatlanders. It was a beautiful day, which worried me some because I had no hat and forgot to put sunscreen on my bald head, as usual. But part of the beautifulness was that I didn't get fried after all.

It was a great show, and you can't beat the price. (It was free, natch.) Some of Buddy's songs I'd heard before, but most were new to me. Probably the oddest recognition was hearing him do "Hole in my Head," a song the Dixie Chicks do on Fly and which I didn't realize Buddy and Jim Lauderdale had written. I really ought to get me some Jim Lauderdale, considering all the great songs he's written for other folks I like (such as Bruce Robison, Patty Loveless, and George Strait).

Anyway, solo Buddy was good, but I must admit I prefer the stuff he does with his wife Julie. (Check out their 2001 joint effort, the imaginatively titled "Buddy and Julie Miller," for some heart-breakingly beautiful stuff.) The only reference he made to her was an odd comment about her not leaving the house much during the summer. Is her skin horribly sensitive to the sun? Is she violently allergic to everything? Whatever the case, she wasn't there. Considering that Buddy is on the road a lot--aside from his own shows, he plays with the divine Emmylou Harris regularly--their marriage must tolerate, or even thrive upon, frequent separation.

After some line dancing lessons (no, I didn't participate), The Flatlanders played. The Flatlanders are three singer-songwriters originally from Lubbock, Texas: Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely and Butch Hancock. I didn't think I'd ever heard them before, but I recognized a couple of the songs, particularly "Right Where I Belong." (My theory is that I caught them on Austin City Limits without really knowing who they were; considering that they appeared on the same episode as Alison Krauss and Union Station, it's a pretty good bet.) They were awesome, probably the best live act I've seen since, oh, Robbie Fulks, probably. Want all of their albums, now. Sigh. See above enthusiasm for freeness of show.

So that was a great time, and we decided to go out afterwards to the California Clipper, a lounge/dive not far from here. As I was not driving, I added a martini to the beers I'd had at the show, and a few more things, before remembering that I am no longer twenty-two. Damn. The Clipper had entertainment, a band called--I shit you not--Snatch, Inc.. They were billed as R&B, which sounded promising, but proved to be more of a smooth jazz combo, which is just Not Cool. Smooth Jazz is the handiwork of the devil. The question is, really, what is R&B? It encompasses an awfully wide range of music, from George Clinton space-funk to Luther Vandross' sexy-safe ballads. (Get better, by the way, Luther.) I don't think it encompasses Smooth Jazz, though. Maybe Grover Washington, Jr.. Anyway, Snatch, Inc. may or may not have been R&B, but the consensus was that they were not very good.

Anyway, that was yesterday. Maybe I'll tell you about today tomorrow.


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