The following post is an unedited version of my report for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which ran in a shorter form on Monday, June 9, 2008.
June 15, 2008
By Barry Gilbert
The Waco Brothers, an irreverent band of post-punk, country-leaning Brits from Chicago, and Ha Ha Tonka, young tradition-minded rockers from the Ozarks, closed out the four-night Twangfest 12 in style Saturday [June 7, 2008] at Off Broadway.
St. Louis’ not-for-profit, roots music festival came full circle with the Wacos, who inaugurated the series at Off Broadway in 1997.
— Review of Day 1: Chuck Prophet, Centro-Matic, the Butchers and the Builders
— Review of Day 2: The Gourds, the Dynamites featuring Charles Walker, the Deadstring Brothers
— Review of Day 3: The Old 97’s, Hayes Carll, Miles of Wire, I Love Math
— Review of Day 4: The Waco Brothers, Ha Ha Tonka, the everybodyfields, Caleb Travers
Clad in a variety of black Western shirts, the Wacos played for an hour and 45 minutes and tore through 20 songs, a set list that would have been longer if not for the Wacos’ nonstop onstage banter that ranged from British sexual practices to U.S. politics, with numerous checkpoints in between.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Sept. 1, 2007) — “May the bird of paradise fly up your nose.”And welcome to the Grand Ole Opry, theme-park version. Little Jimmy Dickens was the host for the first segment of Saturday’s late show at Opryland USA, and his crossover novelty hit from 1966 set the tone for the night.
What was the tone? Kind of laid-back. Folks laughed politely at the moldy, cornpone jokes, and Dickens seemed to get a bigger hand for being 86 years old than for anything else.
Loudest cheers of the night went to the exciting gospel quartet Legacy 5 — No. 5 plays the piano — but they cheated, bringing in a busload of fans.
Perhaps I’m feeling ambivalent about this experience because it came only a few hours after I toured the “church of country music” and the Opry’s original home, the Ryman Auditorium. And perhaps no first-time trip to the Opry can meet expectations fueled by years of reading stories and books about it, seeing it on TV and hearing it, ableit rarely, on the radio. Because it is a radio show, broadcast still over WSM in Nashville, complete with live scripted ads for Martha White Flour.
Then there’s this whole Opryland USA thing, this monster created in the middle of nowhere 20 minutes out of downtown Nashville by Gaylord Entertainment, which saved the Ryman from the wrecking ball 20 years ago and rehabbed the old church, but not before moving the show out of downtown.