Hiss Golden Messenger
Fri Apr 07 2017
Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm
$30 (Fees Included)
This event is 14 and over
Goes Great With: Neil Young, Uncle Tupelo, Old 97s, Gov't Mule
Americana with soul, this is southern roots-rock best served with a jug of moonshine.
THIS SHOW IS STANDING ROOM ONLY.
Doors @ 8 | Hiss Golden Messenger @ 9 | Drive-By Truckers @ 10:15
Their sound - so distinctly theirs - comes nonetheless from history and the past. It's all a big tangled beautiful mess, and it all comes out of Muscle Shoals, where, as Patterson's father, legendary bassist David Hood, astutely notes, the South once did something right with respect to race relations, once-upon-a-time, and when it most mattered.
In their documentary, The Secret to a Happy Ending, Patterson speaks of the South's "duality thing." Visually, the documentary shows a symbolism of this duality nicely: the fecund green clamor of summer (play it loud), insects shrilling high in the canopy as if giving voice to a fever in the land that may or may not be a madness; and in winter, the bare raw limbs, the signature of a thing - things - going away. Similarly, the Truckers, while walking on the dark side of the street in their songs, seem, despite it all, unable to avoid stumbling into cathedrals and columns of light, as in Mercy Buckets.
A little about Go-Go Boots: it doesn't make a lot of sense for me to wax long about what you're going to hear. The incantatory, almost child-like refrain of clamant happiness, "I do believe/I do believe," with its big-band rock-chord super-anthem kicking in, then - a song about family, and the memory of being loved - a rock song about one's grandmother! - sets the tone for all that is to follow, fireplace poker bludgeoning be damned.
You hear the bona fide country in Cooley's Cartoon Gold, complete with rambling banjo run, and the undefinable ache and wonder at life, in the vocals - and you hear the I've-been-done-wrong-by-life-bit-am-still-here, still-hurting, hurting-so-good slowing- down soul sound.
So many of the songs on this album will end up being favorites, and anyway, it's not fair to say one song's better than any other - but damn, the first Eddie Hinton song on this album - Everybody Needs Love - is awfully fine. The Truckers hardly ever cover anyone else's songs, but here they've chosen two by their late friend, Hinton. This is a big deal and when you hear the two songs you'll understand what a good idea it is. You'll also see how directly their country-soul sound resonates with his.
What is country-soul? The glib description, "You can't pin it down but you know it when you hear it," isn't very satisfying. It's not enough to say it's funky, or has "that slow steady soul beat, that drive." It's not enough, technically, to say it places John Neff's pedal steel with Jay Gonzalez' B-3 and piano, or, on other songs, his Wurlitzer - but that's true enough, too. Maybe the best way to understand what country-soul is is to listen to Everybody Needs Love again. It's got a great vocal reach - a beautiful, no-holds-barred straining greatness - mixed with the Memphis backside style of drumming-compliments of Brad Morgan - that Al Jackson made famous on Wilson Pickett's Midnight Hour. Here, it's perfectly in sync with the story, and the mood, the message. It's got the great back-up chorus coming in, the piano and Hammond B-3 assuming greater authority, the farther into the song you go. We could be talking about genetic strands being inlaid, so deeply and intensely does this sound take over a listener. After only a couple of playings, it seems like the song inhabits you, has always been in you. This is what constitutes a classic.
Through the spring and summer, while traveling and when I was off the road and at home in Durham, I wrote about love-the teaching kind and the destroying kind- and about movement, and being moved, really and truly moved. I wrote about our responsibilities to our brothers and sisters-of blood and the road-and how easy it can be to abdicate those responsibilities at the slightest threat of bad weather. I reckoned with things that I couldn't see, but I could feel; and in so feeling begin to understand as real to me and those whom I love. I carried my piece of the fire, or tried to. The heart is a beautiful vessel, prone to failure and breathtaking acts of grace. An impermanent, permeable thing, lovely for its changeabil ity, blameless for its fallibility. It's hard to even begin to conceive of how to measure our boundaries. Heart Like a Levee is my taking stock of my universe, my span, my inventory, my leavetaking and return over back roads so blue they look black until the dawn.
Heart Like a Levee was recorded in the fall and winter of 2015. It was produced by myself and Brad Cook, who also played bass. Phil Cook played the piano and organ and guitar, and Matt McCaughan played the drums and percussion. Our friends Alexandra SauserMonnig, Tift Merritt, Michael Lewis, Matt Douglas, Chris Boerner, Josh Kaufman, Ryan Gustafson, Sonyia Turner and Jon Ashley all contributed in important ways that you can read about in the album credits.
I have dedicated every day to song. I have been traveling all my life. And I understand that I am so lucky, and I am thankful. Money is easy enough to find if you want it bad enough; but art, true deep art full of grace that shakes and terrifies the soul, is an elusive spirit and damn near impossible to come by. So sitting in this sunny backyard at the end of this journey that I took with my friends and family, everyone that I love and some of whom did not even realize they were on this trip, I'm thinking: We found it. Goddammit, everybody: We found it. And that's a rare feeling indeed.