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Wednesday, December 13

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Review Sun Sep 25 2011

Review: The Bottle Rockets, Marshall Crenshaw @ Old Town School of Folk Music

I happened to run into Bottle Rockets drummer Mark Ortmann in the lobby of the Old Town School of Folk Music as they waited to go on for an encore with Marshall Crenshaw at the earlier of their two shows Friday night. Exchanging a pleasantry, I complimented him on the show, and he smiled and thanked me, commenting that "This tour is so much fun." I was glad to hear it, but I don't think I needed the confirmation, as the performances of both The Bottle Rockets and Marshall Crenshaw were consistent with good artists having a good time plying their trade.

Temporarily reduced to a three-piece as guitarist John Horton attended to a newborn at home, the remaining Bottle Rockets, guitarist and vocalist Brian Henneman, drummer Ortmann and bass player Kieth Voegele opened the show with an acoustic set that included many of their classics such as "1000 Dollar Car" and "Kit Kat Clock". The acoustic versions hew closer to the songs' origins, and brought into sharp relief the quality of the band's songwriting, exploring various aspects of Joe Six-Pack existence. Even with stripped down instrumentation and a shorthanded band, songs packed emotional depth while managing to remain light, often weaving dark themes with levity as in "Lucky Break", about spending time on workman's comp.

Finishing their set and coming back in rock band mode, The Bottle Rockets returned to support Marshall Crenshaw as he led the attentive audience through a retrospective of his thirty year career. Crenshaw dipped into his vast repertoire, playing a variety of songs from all stages of his career, as well as some choice covers including Richard Thompson's "Valerie", and Buddy Holly's "Cryin', Waitin', Hopin'" and "Rave On". Wielding a disconcertingly shiny candy-apple red Strat, Crenshaw played songs written with writing partners stretching from his teen years to more contemporary collaborations with artists such as Dan Bern.

In fact, if there was anything wrong with the show, it was somewhat mirrored in the pristine finish of Crenshaw's guitar. Under the plain white lighting of the Old Town's stage, and in front of an attentive but subdued audience, the performance occasionally felt a little too sterile, at times seeming more like a workshop on what a show should look like than a living, breathing show. Though the room itself seemed a little flat at times, it's ultimately hard to argue with the success of the night's lineup. A stage full of tested musicians having a good time is never a bad thing.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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