Friday, July 18, 2014

Concert Review: Eric Taylor at Knuckleheads

Eric Taylor threatened to shoot me last night. 

I walked into the back room of Knuckleheads shortly after Taylor's first set began.  I was immediately entranced by the folk songs and halting speech of the Texan.  Even so, I was compelled to respond to a couple text messages about 15 minutes after I took a seat among the audience of ten. 

Taylor took offense. 

In a profanity laced tirade in which he referenced his open carry license, he demanded that I "turn off my f*cking cell phone."  Partly because his stage set consisted of a glass of red wine, a prescription pill canister and an unopened bottle of water, I heeded his warning without objection. 

I passed on appearances by Richard Buckner and Old Crow Medicine Show/Carolina Chocolate Drops in favor of paying $15 to see Taylor for the first time.  Still haunted by my failure to witness a performance by Townes Van Zandt, I figured I'd take a flier on Taylor.  Sure enough, Taylor told a tale or two about his former running buddy.

Taylor's stories were at the core of his two sets.  He spoke about the series of strokes he'd suffered, the deafness in his right ear, the physical pain he associates with abandonment by women, Pentecostal snake handling, heroin and moonshine.  A recording of Taylor's tribute to Bill Morrissey captures the tone of last night's performance.

His approach is in keeping with the Texas troubadour tradition of Vince Bell, Guy Clark, Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, Billy Joe Shaver and his ex-wife Nanci Griffith.  A glowing profile in The Houston Chronicle serves as a helpful introduction for the uninitiated. 

I called Taylor out on his threat after the show.  He insisted that his ominous warning was merely "a bit" and that the prescription bottle was just a prop that contained guitar picks.  The mea culpa was unconvincing.

I reviewed a concert by Pat Benatar/Neil Giraldo and Rick Springfield.

Johnny Winter has died.  His production of Muddy Waters' Hard Again was among my primary entry points to blues. 

Elaine Stritch has died.

"Sound Bite" is a track from Ces Cru's forthcoming Ego Stripper album.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

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