By Barry Gilbert


Friday, June 8, 2007
Published online at

Cary Hudson and Laurie Stiratt of Blue Mountain
Cary Hudson and Laurie Stiratt of Blue Mountain | Barry Gilbert
Twangfest fired up the wayback machine on Thursday night with a strong lineup that featured the reunion of Blue Mountain, one of alt-country’s touchstone acts.

Singer-songwriter and ace guitarist Cary Hudson, bassist-songwriter Laurie Stirratt and drummer Frank Coutch played with an abandon that gave no hint that they hadn’t played together in seven years or that the second show of Twangfest 11 was the first of their reunion tour.

Drawing from styles ranging from traditional country to blues and rock, the Oxford, Miss.-based band had the crowd in Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room shouting out titles from the start, and the band responded with a show that drew from each of its five studio albums recorded from 1993 to 2001.

“A Band Called Bud” (“roll on, rock ‘n’ roll soldier”) came early in the set and prompted Hudson to recall that Blue Mountain’s first St. Louis gig was in the same cellar back when it was Cicero’s. More nostalgia came with the songs, including “Lakeside” and its reference to “makin’ out to Supertramp.”

Hudson, who played Twangfest solo three years ago, dazzled on guitar, his fluid runs, blues chording and even occasional reliance on the wah-wah pedal flying above the solid rhythm laid down by Coutch and Stirratt.

Blue Mountain standards including “Sleepin’ in My Shoes,” “Poppa,” “Bloody 98” and “Blue Canoe” kept the crowd on its feet. Hudson and company followed singer-songwriter Tim Easton, who continues to grow with each appearance and easily could have been a Twangfest headliner.

The Ohio-born Easton started his set as he’s seen most often these days, solo on acoustic guitar and harmonica, promising that he was “gonna be all over your twang.”

Tim Easton performs at Twangfest 11
Tim Easton performs at Twangfest 11.| Barry Gilbert
Micah Schnabel and drummer Dustin Harigle of Two Cow Garage
Micah Schnabel and drummer Dustin Harigle of
Two Cow Garage.
| Barry Gilbert
New songs dominated early, with Easton proving that a solo performer doesn’t have to be plugged in to rock.

Then he did just that when he was joined by old friends Two Cow Garage from Columbus, Ohio, the band that opened the night.

Blazing on electric guitar alongside Two Cow’s Micah Schnabel, Easton tore through the recent “Dear Old Song and Dance,” a song that reflects its Amsterdam roots, “C-Dub,” the surreal rocker “Just Like Home” and “Lexington Jail.”

Easton closed his set solo, including the love song “Next to You” – “Please fondle your neighbor,” he advised.

Two Cow Garage’s opening set started off quietly with the new song “Should’ve California,” an effecting tale of regret, before roaring into “Come Back to Shelby.”

Schnabel and bassist Shane Sweeney threw themselves about the stage as they ripped through several songs from their new CD “III,” including “Camo Jacket” and “Camaro.”

A midset highlight was a cover of the Beatles’ “Oh! Darling,” tweaked with a blues rhythm during the chorus.

Singer-songwriter Carrie Rodriguez was up second in this lineup, playing fiddle and electric mandolin on tunes largely from her debut solo CD, “Seven Angels on a Bicycle,” dedicated to a friend who was killed in New York.

Rodriquez, who was part of a duo for five years with singer-songwriter Chip Tayler, alternated moody, Lucinda Williams-esque songs such as the title cut with more country-folk fare.

She also alternated playing electric mandolin and fiddle, but hearing the mandolin was a problem, especially early in the set, when it displayed none of the instrument’s nuance in a muddy, noisy mix..

But Rodriguez, a talent to watch, was supported in grand style by Hans Holzen on electric guitar and Kyle Kegerreis on double bass.

Carrie Rodriguez and Hanz Holzen
Carrie Rodriguez and Hans Holzen. | Barry Gilbert