Wake Up and Stump the Band
Here I go again, this was the best John Prine concert I have been to. Bet you're getting tired of hearing that. Aw hell, John's concerts are always great.
This night in Kansas City was embroidered with beautiful weather and a clear starry sky. The streets around the Midland Theatre were packed full of all kinds of people on their way to somewhere. Lots of Prine fans, lots of Prine shirts - people singing tidbits of Prine songs and here we were soaking it all in from a cement landing - tickets safely in my pocket. I kept my hand on them, since I could unknowingly make them disappear.
The Midland is a stunning venue. Rich with embellished history. Just the place to hear and see America's singing poet. Just the place to raise your spirits to new heights with that mailman from Chicago.
We entered the concert as Carrie Rodriguez was into her first song, all the way down tothe front row with our fabulous Music Fans Direct from John Prine's company presale tickets. Looking around, I recognized all but four people in the front row - now how cool is that?
Carrie, adorable as ever andWearing and wearing a sexy black and cream lace flaired mini dress was flanked by Hans Holzen on guitars and vocals were even more spectacular than St Louis, when Carrie was sans Hans and playing a borrowed four string uniquely small guitar.
Next month she’ll head back into the studio to record an album of covers with producer Lee Townsend, and she’s working on songs for her third album of original material. Carrie and Hans make a wonderful team, both looks and talent and beautiful harmonies. This was such a thrill
Carrie Rodriguez Set List
1. Absence is the Hardest Truth
2. I don't wanna play house anymore
3. 7 angels on a bicycle
4. Rex's Blues (Townes Van Zandt)
5. Never Gonna Be Your Bride
6. La Puñalada Trapera (Treacherous Backstabber) written by her Great Aunt Ava Garza
Carrie and Hans exited the stage to a roaring standing ovation. The Midland floor was all abuzz with folks moving about and the chatter and excitement just continued to build.
As the crew becan tearing down and setting up the stage for John I took the opportunity to study the stage. There was a little brown bottle along with several water bottles on John's table - and I don't think I noticed his electric guitar. hmmmm, anyway, the little brown bottle caused me to wonder if he John was coming down with something, because it looked like a cough syrup bottle. Guess I would just have to wait and see.
I could see in the wings of the stage, and after about 10 minutes I saw John and the boys, thinking, oh boy, it's about to start, but then, they all left the area and went downstairs for a few more minutes. It did seem like one of the longest John Prine show intermissions - possibly they were just giving everyone more time to get through that hellaciously long line of fans to see Carrie Rodriguez in the lobby.
The audience began to get impatient at about 9:07 and started clapping and stomping a rhythm - taking their seats in a way to signify, "we're ready, John, come out and play!"
and he did.
Arriving on stage without any introduction or fan fare... if you weren't paying attention, you may not have know that then snuck out there as the lights returned to low.
They began their set with a mellow Spanish Pipedream.... John and Jason looked a little bit like they had just awoken from a nap. I'm thinking that John has allergies or a cold. I've heard him sing "rough" and this was not "rough" - so I wonder, hmmm, maybe it was just too much fun and a long ride from Springfield this morning.
He saddened us with "Speed of the Sound of Loneliness" and told the story of how he wrote "Fish and Whistle" on a mail route to treat his same 12 fans that listed to him every Thursday night at the Fifth Peg on Armitage in Chicago. He wrote it on the way to the show, in his head - the guitar was in the trunk and he practiced it for the first time in the men's room before the show.
He played Souvenirs for Steve Goodman, he had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. What a great audience - just enough spunk and respect to cheer with standing O's and rousting applause after each tune.
During "Please Don't Bury Me" he seemed a bit uncomfortable, and stated that there must be something in his shoes as he "ended up taller than the microphone"
He told the I'll fix him "Fish and Whistle" story - and he told it in such a way that I heard it, again, for the first time. How does he do that? The man truly is gifted and could make a video for children and adults alike of just stories. As he sang this one, he paused before the third verse and giggled. I love it when he giggles, it's sincerely something he shares with us that makes you wonder "what in the world is he thinking, is singing a song and writing another in his head?"
John went on to tell us how he really prefers to write songs by himself as he knows what he 's thinking about and the idea he is trying to convey. He wrote Glory of True Love with Roger Cook at his kitchen table in Nashville with his wife, Fiona, in mind... and he certainly hoped that she was not who was on Roger's mind when they wrote it.
Crazy as a Loon was wriiten about a guy who blames his troubles on everyone and everything else. Again, he giggled during this song, right before he did his loon call... which his fans all replied with a loon call back. It was just too cool.
He explained how "All the Best" is the song to sing in case you get invited to your ex's wedding and are asked to sing...."Always be prepared" said Prine.
The guy next to me was loving every minute of the show, and he turned to me with a huge grin and said John Prine makes my cheeks hurt" I knew exactly what he meant.
He sang Angel From Montgomery for Bonnie Raitt and introduced his side men Dave Jacques on bass and Jason Wilber on lead guitar, who were stunning as usual - dressed to the nines. Jason is donning a new look these days, it fits his guitar style... when he was so clean cut in a Buddy Holly sort of way, you would be surprised at his playing - with the longer hair, he looks just as down and dirty and his playing. That's a good thing.
At this point Dave and Jason left the stage and there we were, alone with John Prine. He sang to us the aching love song of Long Monday followed by another acher Christmas in Prison. Followed by the song that is always playing in my head, on the tip of my tongue as an answer to worry and anger "Bruised Orange, Chain of sorrow"
"This is for the webmistress of the shrine, Reeda Buresh, he says with a smile and a little giggle again, "she is always trying to stump the band" and I'll be damned, he sang "Living in the Future" without stuttering, stammering or looking to the skies for the next line. Thanks John... now I'm going to have to start pushing for another one.... I hope you weren't delayed this night because you had to go look at the words online....
"I heard someone holler this one out" And he let us perform Illegal Smile with him. After the song he commented amid the cheering, "Aw go on, you just like to hear yourself sing"
As he ended his solo set with Sam Stone, Dave slipped onto his bass followed shortly by Jason on his guitar.
There's some movement into places and instruments on stage, a little hamming up by the "oh so nervous" lovable guitar tech and John removes his coat to kick off the kick ass set with Bear Creek Bliues.
We are given another reminder of these days from an old song that will never go out of style "Crooked Piece of Time"
He explained that he wanted to write a song to practice all the chords he knew and fortunately it came out right as he choked many of us with that age old old age song "Hello In There". Again he gave props to Jason and Dave, who bring the words to life with their ever masterful playing.
During Lake Marie, as it seems to be the staple anymore... when he looks out at the crowd and asks "Do you know what blood looks like in a Black and White video?" - there is no hesitation when he is answered in unison with "Shadows" - "that's right, Shadows' he responds back.
and ooooooh baby, we gotta go now. They took their bows as we were all on our feet cheering at the emotional roller coaster he just let us off of. They looked exhilarated, we were exhilarated and not quite ready for it to be over.
As John exited the stage his crew entered and set up for the encore, making a place for Carrie and Hans.
They returned, and sang In Spite of Ourselves. Carrie and John sing it like they are that old married couple in the song, you believe her when she says he ain't got laid in a month of Sundays and you really wonder if he was down in the laundry sniffin her undies. She isn't Iris Dement, but she is the woman in that song - it was a fantastic duet to see and hear. Full of drama and smiles, it is the perfect hillbilly love song for anyone
John invites Hans out and begins to intro the last song of the night. He explains that he had been down with the good, the bad and the ugly at his 43rd Labor Day family reunion and they all gathered to sing this song.
Paradise. Everyone took a turn, everyone had a verse or an instrumental solo. Everyone in the house was on their feet, trying to cheer him on, make them remember Kansas City is a place that loves and respects John Prine.... hoping that maybe he would do another encore and keep entertaining us all night, hoping to keep that feeling for just one minute more.
Ahhhh, it's just a good and smart thing to get to a Prine show, at least 2 or three yearly. Full of old songs, a seasoned professional who makesit so personal and new...
Thanks John -
John explained that last weekend, Labor Day was his 43rd family reunion and it was full of the good, the bad and the ugly - all who sang this song