by Emily Blunt
Copied from the Emily Blunt review site.
Copyright © 2000 Blunt Review All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission from the author.
A night of down and dirty, shakin'- roots- rock- and roll- kick ass-
Whew. I showed up late for a legend's show the other night-luckily,
he too was late. I'm talking about Levon Helm. A
who has jammed with some of the uber-talents known to music. He's
a chewing tobacco type - down home country boy. Been beating the skins
a while. Helm's best known for his lifetime role in The
Band. Hopefully, you know who they are... (But one of my readers
actually had never heard a Who song- so, I don't assume anymore. Sad
When I heard Helm joined up with The Barn Burners- I just
had to check them out. I always say, trust the Keebler Elves for that
-time- of- the month sugar fix, Kevin Spacey for intelligence on film,
and Levon Helm for audio enjoyment.
I was not disappointed.
In fact not since the annual "Buck Owens' Birthday Bash"
at the Continental in Austin, had I had talent catapulted at me by
a more "together" group of musicians simply in love with
the music they were belting out.
by an intensely talented muscular mansteak of a lad, Chris O'Leary
The Barn Burners ripped through the two sets without breaking
a sweat. O'Leary lended smooth vocals and stylized harp to every tune.
Their music resonated of yesteryears' Blue's virtuosos. Honest and
straight forward, with good old fashioned down deep soul ringing through
their Fender amps.
The Blues is simple music by design, but placed in the appropriate
hands metamorphosis' into a complex beast of musical infusions. These
were definitely the right hands. Though the legend Helm sat quietly
pounding away in the background, the boys in front let the audience
know they weren't hitch hiking on the curtails of grandpa. They smoked
the place down.
That audience was mixed with Band fans and curious music lovers.
They all warmed up completely to let the new breed of players titillate
them for the eve. Dale Watson, Kasey Chambers
and now The Burn Burners- these are the folks to look for in
your smaller talent driven venues about town. It wont be long before
their into the bigtime- ALA Lucinda Williams -I'm guessing.
With all the musical crap we've had force fed to us for the past few
years, there are still a strong handful of mighty realists tearing
down the walls of Jerico
(<-sneaky pun) and rockin' on through. They're pulverising the
musky commercial molds and resuscitating the roots of rock and roll
blues; filling it's sadly emaciated lungs with a fresh soulful air.
The Barn Burners are on that paramedic team.
Blues' familiar classics from the likes of Muddy Waters were infused
with O'Leary's own penned pieces, as if the two could have been conceived
in the same era. Connoisseurs of the genre will enjoy their set list.
Pat O'Shea, also swell on the retina in a Baby Face Malone
kind of way, danced about with one of those automatically sexy
accessory pieces- the Carl Perkins Style guitar. A guitar
that screams when stroked properly-he made her scream! Switching between
guitars he didn't miss a beat. What a pleasure to see it done right
Amy Helm (daughter of Levon and stand alone talent) peeked out from
behind the keys and sang a little with O'Leary. A hearty voice with
an animated stage style handed
from pappa. Anyone familiar with Helm the Elder's performance quirks
and facial skews will pick up on budding Amy's mannerisms. I'm not
complaining. No siree Bob. I would have liked to see even more of
her. It's nice when second generation entertainers are actually talented,
Bobby Keys, guest sax-on-the stage (and old Band mate) did
his usual smooth ticklings. Effortless musicianship.
back beat, Frankie Ingroa, along with Levon, ran through the place
like a train late for noon day mail call. Tight and perfect. Frankie
seemed to be having a blast. The whole show felt as though a group
of talented friends were jamming at your uncle Rick's for the
An aside rant: I wish folks would let musicians grow. I speak of Levon
Helm. The Barn Burners who get second billing under his legendary
moniker- really don't need him. I mean "name dropping" wise.(
It may actually hurt more than help, what with his past being such
a strong part of musical history) But you think after he's been rockin'
with us for over 40 something years "Helm's people" would
wanna check out what he's up to. The audience was maddeningly thin.
Argh, the public.
Ya'all look 'em up in your paper. It aint The Band , but man
it's a BAND!
Check them out in these areas and check
here for future gigs.
11/21 Lake Buena Vista, FL House of Blues
11/20 Lake Buena Vista, FL House of Blues
12/02 New York, NY Chicago B.L.U.E.S.
12/01 New York, NY Chicago B.L.U.E.S.
02/01 San Diego, CA Croce's Top Hat
01/27 New Braunfels, TX Gruene Hall
01/26 Houston, TX Mucky Duck
p01/25 Dallas, TX Blue Cat Blues
Chris O'Leary has promised to "catch up" when their CD's
released in spring. Then we'll get a chance to cyberview the man.
That sounds devilishly delicious, no?
Pictures "borrowed" from
the same Band site from various BB fans.
"Snapshot art" by Erika Bolin
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