[still from this video]
Patterson Hood must be holding back his best material. Or, at least, the solo material on display at this appearance at The Bell House wowed both Johnny Fried Chicken Boy and me to a greater level than his most recent work with his main gig, the Drive-By Truckers, has. That’s not meant as a knock on the Truckers – that band is a collaborative effort, and Hood has never been the whole equation as far as songwriting for it goes. But he has always been, at least for me, the beating heart and mascot of that band, the friendly drunk with a wink in his eye, the one who reminds you of that reliably Southern buddy you wish you had.
Hood is also the band’s great storyteller. His honest, unvarnished tales manage to be universal, even if you don’t know jack shit about moonshine and pickup trucks. His new record is called Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance, and the title track is a tribute to Patterson’s recently deceased great uncle, who raised him for much of his childhood. If you’ve seen actual heat lightning spread its electric fingers out over a black Southern sky, seemingly tousling the pines, you know what a majestic sight it is. And why it reminded Patterson of a loved one, about to be dearly departed. Because that image, like that person you love, will never leave you.
Many of his images don’t. There’s Billy Ringo, the hapless stoner who nearly dies every day, nearly falling from a window but still keeping his hand on his bong. There are the liquor store fanboys of “12:01”, hanging outside the store on Sunday at midnight, fighting off the shakes until they can get their whiskey fix. There are the torn pages from the back of a Gideon Bible, scrawled with a love song of a moment’s inspiration.
Hood is a gifted songwriter, blessed with the common touch and an uncommon amount of insight. He’s a generous writer and performer, too; even by the standards of rock n’ roll, you can tell how much he loves doing both. Only somebody with that much love puts on a nearly two hour performance of solo album material on a Monday night. This show covered much of Heat Lightning, which will be released on September 11, but also offered some of his earlier favorites like “Pollyanna” was well as notable covers, including Big Star’s “September Gurls” and Todd Rundgren’s “The Range War”. Hood and this band, christened the Downtown Rumblers, were as free spirited and lively as ever, passing a bottle of Patron around as they dug deep into Hood’s catalog at a solid, but measured pace. Hood likes to take his time to cue up his songs, to put a frame around them, if you will, and that is one of the most rewarding aspects of his live show. By the time this one wrapped, it felt like we’d spent an evening with an old friend. The show ended, appropriately, with the Eddie Hinton song “Everybody Needs Love”, and we had felt plenty of it from Patterson tonight.
This set was recorded with Schoeps MK41 microphones, whose directionality helps to reduce some of the “boomy” nature of this room, and a soundboard feed. I think you will like the results. Enjoy!
Minor assistance with the setlist would be appreciated. Also, the tag for the first track should be changed to “Depression Era”. Thanks to Patterson, the Bell House and Dave for their hospitality.
Stream “Heat Lightning Rumbles In the Distance”
Stream “September Gurls [Big Star]”
Download the MP3 and FLAC files and stream this entire show on the Live Music Archive [HERE]
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Patterson Hood and the Downtown Rumblers
Brooklyn, NY USA
Hosted at nyctaper.com
Recorded and produced by acidjack
Schoeps MK41>CMC6>Sound Devices USBPre2 + SBD >> Edirol R-44 [OCM]>2x24bit/48kHz WAV>Izotope Ozone 5 (EQ AUD)>Adobe Audition CS 5.5 (light DR compression on SBD, mixdown)>Izotope Ozone 5 (additional EQ)>Audacity (set fades, tracking, amplify, balance, downsample)>FLAC ( level 8 )
Tracks [Total Time 1:53:08]
01 Depression Era
02 Pride of the Yankees
05 Leavin’ Time
06 Little Bonnie
08 Billy Ringo
11 September Gurls [Big Star]
12 Old Timer’s Disease
13 (untold pretties)
14 The Range War [Todd Rundgren]
15 Betty Ford
16 Uncle Disney
17 Better Off Without
19 After the Damage
21 Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance
22 Come Back Little Star
23 15 Days
24 [encore break]
25 Back of a Bible
26 Everybody Needs Love [Eddie Hinton]