Sunday, March 1, 2009

RODNEY CROWELL at Saxon Pub 2-27-09

Boy, a girl could get spoiled. Back to back nights of big names in small rooms. First was Thursday with Willie at Waterloo and Friday it was Rodney at Saxon. This is a a very small club with seating for 100, I'd guess. When I heard he was playing there I couldn't believe it and bought tickets immediately.
The day of the show I went over to Saxon to see how this was going to work, what time the doors would open, details really, because I figured there would be a ton of people and fighting for a prime spot once inside was the issue. Turns out, the owner of Saxon was sitting at the bar and explained things this way:
"Did you buy a ticket online?"
"Yes, I did."
"Ok, you won't have a seat tonight. All tables are reserved for people who paid $250 for the table and that is how we were able to get Rodney in here. We then sold 60 online tickets. This way, there will be plenty of room for everybody. We didn't oversell it. People will be comfortable."
He went on to say most of the people coming to the show would be those in town for the Sunday night Texas Heritage Songwriters Association induction ceremony. Guy Clarke is one of the inductees this year, along with Willie Nelson, and Rodney is inducting Guy.
Rodney's opening act at Saxon, Michael Martin Murphey, is also being inducted this year. Turns out Rodney was inducted last year. How I missed out on all of this information previous to this conversation is beyond me.
The owner said get here about 8pm and we will try to add more seats, make sure everybody is comfortable. The show, being broadcast live on KGSR, was to start at 9pm.
So, our group of 4 got there at 7:30pm. We went in as a local band, The Regulars, was playing, as they do every Friday from 6-8pm. We grabbed some good standing spots along a rail with a great sight line to the stage.
After The Regulars finished, the owner started getting the room set for the big show. He asked how many were in our group and then told us to take a table which was in front of Rodney's mic about 5 feet away! OK!
We shared the table with another group of 3 who also bought online tickets. This was the only downside of the evening as it appeared they had been drinking for oh, I don't know, about a week or so.
Now, the important stuff. The music. Michael Martin Murphey, I had no idea what he would be like. My thought going in was hurry up so we can get to Rodney, who I love. Turns out, Michael was great. He's written many songs over the years, recorded not only by him but Lyle Lovett, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and various others. There probably isn't anyone alive who doesn't know the song he wrote and had a big hit with in the 70's, "Wildfire." It was a pleasure listening to him. A cowboy writer with a powerful voice and he's quite the guitarist.
Rodney was Rodney, just great! He is a warm, funny guy live. Playing solo, sitting on a stool, he played songs from throughout his career. We got songs like "Closer To Heaven" from his latest record Sex and Gasoline, to songs written very early in his career. He told several stories, including one of being at the grave site of William Butler Yates and pledging to always sing this song. At this point he played Townes Van Zandt's "Pancho and Lefty," with Michael harmonizing. You could have heard a pin drop during this one.
He also played a couple of my favorites, "The Rock Of My Soul" from his great record The Houston Kid. If you don't have that album, shame on you. He ended the night with "Stars On The Water" which goes way back and I love it. It was a request and he wasn't going to play it, said he needed a drummer, that it wasn't going to be good without the drum shuffle. So the requester said she'd play the drums and hit the wall behind her. He said ok, this is what you need to do and told the audience we had to do a 2-4 shuffle and also a 1-3 beat. We managed and it turned out pretty darn good. You can view the video of it here:
The best video I took all evening though is "The Rock Of My Soul":

This was a once in a lifetime deal. 60 spots available to see one of the best songwriters ever, in a very intimate space. Again, I say, only in Austin.

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