Friday, December 31, 2010


I have seen the present of rock and roll, and it is The Drive-By Truckers.  I'm not even kidding.  They're not punk, metal, "alternative," "indie" or anything else.  They are rock and roll. There aren't too many bands like that today.

But anyone who complains about that state of things -- I often hear people ask "whatever happened to rock and roll music?" -- should chill out. It's not being spoon fed to you.  The mainstream media, ironically enough, seems obsessed with "indie" music.  But you can find great rock and roll these days  - you can tune into Little Steven's Underground Garage or another SiriusXM channel that he oversees, Outlaw Country. Outlaw Country is where I discovered The Drive-By Truckers, who have become one of my favorite bands.  Their latest album, The Big To-Do, is my favorite album of 2010.  Tonight, I saw them in concert for the first time. I had big expectations, and I was not let down. Even though they didn't play some of my favorite jams, including "This Fucking Job" from The Big To-Do, and "Let There Be Rock" from their 2001 classic, Southern Rock Opera. Maybe they are saving some of their big anthems for their Terminal 5 show tomorrow night, a big New Year's Eve bash. You can hear the show live on Outlaw Country (and this is where I say, "full disclosure: I work at SiriusXM").

Tonight, however, they played Brooklyn Bowl, an actual bowling alley. I'd never been there before, it is one of the coolest venues I've ever been to. (I'll write more on the venue in a separate post.)

There were so many highlights - "After The Scene Dies," "A Ghost To Most," "Birthday Boy," "Women Without Whiskey, "Self Destructive Zone," and one of my favorites, "Three Dimes Down" (which quotes Bob Seger's "Rock and Roll Never Forgets"). Patterson Hood played some of his narrative epics, including "18 Wheels Of Love" and "A World Of Hurt," the latter of which nearly moves me to tears every time I hear it. Those songs are usually followed by one of Mike Cooley's more simple stripped down songs.  Sometimes it seems like you have Springsteen and Petty in the same band.

There were some great covers: Patterson's father, David Hood, the house bassist for Muscle Shoals back in the day, joined the band for a cover of The Staple Singers' "Respect Yourself" (he played on the original) and also Eddie Hinton's "Everybody Needs Love" (which they recently recorded for a 7" Hinton tribute single). Both performances were amazing, as well their final encore, Jim Carroll's "People Who Died."

In my recent post about the band, I wrote about singer/guitarist/songwriter Patterson Hood's liner notes, where he discussed the effect that rock and roll had, and still has, on him. That comes out of him throughout the whole show, whether he is singing a song, or one of his bandmates (singer/guitarist/songwriter Mike Cooley or bassist/singer/songwriter Shonna Tucker) are singing. And that passion comes out of them as well - and the other members of the band - guitarist/steel guitarist John Neff, drummer Brad Morgan and keyboardist Jay Gonzalez. They're not pandering, and they're not messing around. This music means something to them. It comes out in lots of aspects of the band: they keep concert tickets down (tonight's show was $20), ditto for their merchandise (t-shirts were also $20) and yet they treat their crew really well.

I've been having a rough week - I had to get rid of my Prince tickets for last night's show. I'm grateful that I was able to go to tonight's show. And during the show, I was able to forget everything else. That's worth a lot - even if they didn't play "Let There Be Rock."

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