Sunday, March 05, 2006

Chris Whitley Tribute Show

We saw Chris Whitley once. It was a couple of years ago at a SXSW showcase. We weren't familiar with him, but really liked his sound. Steve Barber was playing keyboards in the set. We intended to see him again sometime but never did. All the musicians playing at the Tribute show also spoke about the last time they saw him. The picture is of Dan Whitley, his brother. We went not because we were that familiar with Chris, but because there was a good lineup of musicians, and it sounded like it would be really different, plus it was a good cause, and I'm very sad that Chris is gone.

We enjoyed all the bands! Dan Whitley was good, there were a few Houston bands I didn't know. Then came Vernon Reid (from Living Color), then Charlie Sexton. He sounded really really great. He was up there with lots of seasoned Austin regulars: Steve Barber, Billy Cassis, Courtney Audain, and J.J. Johnson. The trivia that came to mind was that Vernon Reid and Charlie have both opened for the Rolling Stones. After Charlie, Shawn Colvin played, and it's probably the best performance I've ever heard from her. Most of the time, she seems to allow the kids to turn the stage into a romper room, and those shows are not so good. This was excellent, and the kids did not perform.

After Shawn was the Barbwire Project, it's always worth going to see, and you will not know exactly what to expect. Stephen Barber, Tosca Strings, Eric Johnson, Chris Maresh, [I didn't know the drummer, it wasn't Bill Maddox as advertised], and Malford Milligan singing. No matter how much I am impressed by guitarists, none can hold a candle to Eric. Such a beautiful sound from a guitar! Also it sounded pretty good with a string quartet. Malford was incredible.

Alejandro Escovedo and Stephen Bruton did not play, probably because of time constraints, but that's just a guess.

The Glenn was a nice surprise as a venue. It had really good sound and you can see the stage from everywhere. On the negative side, it is part of a "growth" project that is very sad, and some aspects of it make no sense at all. Once upon a time, The Backyard amphitheatre was a funky music venue out in the sticks with trees growing inside it (some obstructed views, yes... part of the funkiness), and a beautiful backdrop of trees for the stage. Then they bulldozed everything around there, built the whole gamut of strip mall stores (Lowe's, Michael's, you-name-it). They left The Backyard there and put in The Glenn as a separate but attached venue. for example, the toilets are at The Backyard... so it takes a long walk to get there. This could discourage beer-drinking... or encourage other behaviors... and why they need both venues is something I cannot understand. Anyway, it's there, and it's nice, not as nice as the trees that were ripped out but nicer than having an extra chain store.

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