Memorial Day field trip saw me working my way down (not up...long story) Highway One...Destination: The Henry Miller Library. Shows at the Miller Lib. are always special, sitting outdoors in the courtyard, surrounded by pines...nice alternative to the usual club or small theater.
Headlining was the inimitable Gillian Welch and her trusty aide de camp David Rawlings, kicking off their first official tour in many a moon, a perfect spot for an intimate warmup to shake off the dust and rust. Her new album, The Harrow And The Harvest, will be out 28 June.
The Welch/Rawlings team has become our own Alt/Country comet, appearing irregularly and burning brightly...
It was a stellar evening, broken up into two sets, drawn from all her albums, with a spotlight song given to David Rawlings in each set and a tantalizing taste of the new LP.
Despite the long gap between LP's (8 years now), and infrequent touring, the magic is still there, and the most fun part of the evening was watching that chemistry and love of playing on display, and the few glitches actually had their own charm for the grace and self deprecating way in which they were covered.
Highlight of the first set was the *new song*, (above), which for the sake of argument we'll call "Throw Me A Rope", and stand corrected when the LP comes out. This would be the very same song that was hushed a rowdy Coachella audience in 2007, one of their best, and it's nice to see that it's finally coming out officially.
After a brief intermission, the second set kicked off with "My First Lover", included another precious new song, and hit its peak with a stunning rendition of "Revelator", always a showstopper.
Dipped into covers for the encore, essaying Townes Van Zandt's "Pancho & Lefty, the chestnut "I'll Fly Away", and finishing the night with the harrowing "Long Black Veil".
At work that morning, I happened on a Buffalo Nickel, what i took to be an omen for the day to come, and in the company of Welch and Rawlings, it was a welcome trip back to, as Greil Marcus put it, the Old Weird America...
Final note: Not only are Welch and Rawlings undertaking their own tour, but on a string of the dates they'll be opening for the long anticipated Buffalo Springfield reunion.
GILLIAN WELCH/DAVID RAWLINGS
HENRY MILLER LIBRARY, BIG SUR, CA
30 MAY, 2011
Orphan Girl/Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor/Rock Of Ages/Dear Someone/I Want To Sing That Rock & Roll/Elvis Presley Blues/*Throw Me A Rope (new)/Ruby/Red Clay Halo
My First Lover/No One Knows My Name/Wayside-Back In Time/*The Way That It Goes (new)/Revelator/Sweet Tooth/Look At Miss Ohio/Caleb Meyer
Encore: Pancho & Lefty/I'll Fly Away/Long Black Veil