Alvin Youngblood Hart lights up the Electric Owl
When Alvin Youngblood Hart called in from New Orleans a while back, he went on about how much he loved Irish rock acts like Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore, and Rory Gallagher. None of those Emerald Isle faves made the set list at Hart's Electric Owl show last night (April 29), but that was okay. As cool as it would have been to hear Steve Dawson play the solo from "Whiskey in the Jar" on pedal steel, a couple of Canadian covers took up the slack quite nicely.
The show was the second in the new roots-and-blues series Black Hen Music at the Electric Owl, which runs the last Sunday of each month at the newish Main Street venue that was once the site of the American Hotel. The series—which started with Colin James March 25 and continues with Steve Fearing May 27—seems to have caught on, as the James show sold out and last night looked pretty packed as well.
Hart's set included versions of such Cancon standards as Gordon Lightfoot's "Sundown" and the Band's "Up on Cripple Creek", the latter in tribute to recently departed Bandman Levon Helm. Other choice selections included Merle Haggard's "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down" and the traditional outlaw ode, "Jesse James", a less boogiefied version of which appears on the Home Sweet Home album Hart made a year or two back with the South Memphis String Band. The bluesiest number, perhaps, was a version of the Mississippi Sheiks' "Things 'Bout Coming My Way".
Switching effortlessly from lap-slide to banjo to pedal steel to whatever else he could get his hands on, Dawson provided killer accompaniment to his buddy Hart, whose last visit to town was for the Sheiks tribute concerts Dawson put on at Capilano U in 2010. Needless to say, Dawson's crack Black Hen House Band—composed of bassist Keith Lowe, drummer Geoff Hicks, and keyboardist Chris Gestrin—brought it all home.
Hart's two-song encore closed with Bob Seger's pretty "Main Street", just in case any departing patrons needed a reminder of where they were at.
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