Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bobby Bare Jr, Chicago Oct 7th, 2010 (or: Maybe I didn't say it first)

About a year ago my buddy Pete was at our house visiting and, as usual, we were eating, drinking, listening to music, talking about movies, telling lies and generally annoying members of our family unfortunate enough to walk through our conversations. During one of many pointless conversations, Dane Cook came up. Pete had been getting back into stand up and doing some open mics, so perhaps this is how Cook winds up in our discussion.

I do not have strong feelings for or against Dane Cook. I have seen a special once and had a few chuckles but was not so taken that I wanted to seek out more of his work. Nor was I so offended that I swore off ever watching him again. His bits seemed to be aimed at your traditional, middle of the road, frat type, of which I'm not. So, I make the proclamation that "Dane Cook is the Nickelback of stand up comedy."


Minimal words used to gently and cleverly mock Cook, Nickelback and fans of either.

As the conversation wandered through the afternoon in the back of my mind I kept wondering if not only am I the first person to make this incredibly insightful connection between Cook and Nickelback, but also the first to do it so elegantly.

"Pete, is there any way to find out if I am the first, because if I am, I want to make damn sure I get credit for it."

Well, with a few finger strokes of the iPhone Pete is able to find an earlier example of that exact phrase on a random blog. Mind you, the original utterance was no more than 3 months old at the time and, as much as he could try, he was unable to find another example of the phrase being used. OK, dream crushed, but not by much.

On October 7th, 2010 I had the good fortune to see Bobby Bare Jr. play at Schuba's Tavern in Chicago. I love Schuba's. I like that it is an old Schlitz building, I like the size of the room, I like that the performers have to walk through the crowd to get to the stage, I like the beer offerings on tap, I like that I can get right up to the front of the stage without much trouble. It is pretty hard to find something not to like about Schuba's.

My only other time seeing Bobby Bare Jr. was at the Bloodshot records 15th anniversary party. If I remember correctly the band for that show included bass, drums, trumpet and bari sax. Maybe a keyboard. The band sounded great and the set list was excellent, but the show was basically in a back alley behind the Chicago Department of Sanitation and the set seemed to end as soon as it started. The Schuba's show had Bobby backed by Blue Giant of Portland, a traditional 'rock band' type line up. Many of the same song, but presented with completely different instrumentation.

At the show I picked up his (fantastic) new record and The Longest Meow and listened to both on my drive out of the city. The next day I found myself switching between his albums all day in the car. All the songs, all the different instrumentation, all the colors that he can conjure up. None of the songs employ terribly complex chords or dramatic changes in rhythms, they are all presented in remarkably simple form. Everything from a full rock sound to an acoustic guitar and voice, are used to get sounds ranging from heavy grooving rock to straight ahead old fashioned country.

All this listening and thinking brought me to another Dane/Nickelback type revelation. I can't imagine I am the first to say it, and this time I really don't care, so here goes: Bobby Bare Jr is the Tom Waits of Nashville Music.

Done on the original album version with trumpets, elsewhere on youtube with just acoustic guitar and banjo, here is Valentine, three chords of greatness, done as a rock anthem with Blue Giant at Schuba's.

(more videos from this night posted to youtube)

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