January 10, 2012

Randy Rogers ~ Live @ Verizon Wireless

Randy Rogers couldn’t write a bad song if he wanted to.  Ok, maybe he could, but it just seems like writing great, meaningful, songs with substance is second nature to him.  And he’s had a lot of chances, having put out an album every two years since 2002’s Like It Used to Be.  He’s even thrown in a few live albums along the way, like 2004’s Live at Billy Bob’s and 2000’s Live at Cheatham Street Crossing (out of print).  These albums proved the point that hearing him on vinyl or CD is great, but he sounds just as good, if not better, live.  So going to see The Randy Rogers Band perform one of their last shows of the year at Verizon Wireless was a no brainer.

The Houston music scene is a funny thing.  If you are an up and comer with not that big of a following then there are a ton of places to play.  For most country acts, once you have moved beyond the Firehouse Saloon there aren’t many options.   Though many music lovers loathe Live Nation, they are the ones that brought us the House of Blues and Verizon Wireless so we can still see the bands we care about without having to drive to the outskirts of town to do so.  Both venues provide great seating and standing areas, a chance to get pretty up close and personal, and a kick ass sound system that is crystal clear.  And for that we thank you.

So about Randy Rogers, there are no pyros, no dancing girls, and no smoke and mirrors to hide behind.  It’s just five guys coming together as one cohesive unit to deliver the songs to the fans just the way the fans want them, loud and a lot of them.  And how does he reward his fans; with 25 songs spanning 5 albums with a few that haven’t even been released yet sprinkled in.  Every album was represented with the band’s latest offering, Burning the Day just barely beating out 2004’s Roller Coaster for most songs played from an album.  While many older acts have resorted to playing an entire album all the way through in concert (kind of a cool concept) it seems difficult for the RRB to have to condense a set list down to just 25 songs.  They could play any of their albums straight through and their fans would only love them more for doing so.

His songs are relatable, on point, and take you back to a time or situation that you can always remember.  Whether it’s the first time you drank whiskey as in “Never Be That High” or about running into old lovers such as “One More Goodbye”, you can feel the songs reverberate within yourself.  He seems to tell all of his stories from the first person, which is always easier for the listener to follow.    Also, every song has something catchy to it, whether it is the chorus, a smart lyric, or the fiddle guitar tearing down the house.  Though many of the bands songs are up-tempo and easy to sing along to, it is the slower, more melodic songs that Randy’s voice and smart ways with words really catch you off guard.  A couple of great examples are “Steal You Away” and the Radney Foster penned “If I Had Another Heart, I’d Let You Break That One Too”. 
The band made a point of saying that they “know where they’re from” and no matter how long they are out on the road they always return back home to Texas.  And those times they are gone get longer as their popularity grows.  As long as they keep knocking ‘em dead on stage and in the studio, these guys are going to be around for the long haul, and they will have nothing but great fortunes ahead of them.

To see the rest of the pictures from this show, be sure and visit:

Too Late For Goodbye
Better Off Wrong
I’ve Been Looking for You For so Long
Buy Myself a Chance
Tonight’s Not the Night
Damn the Rain
Never Be That High
10 Miles Deep
Lonely Too Long
Missing You is More Than I Can Do
Wicked Ways
One More Goodbye
You Could Change My Mind
Steal You Away
Last Last Chance
Goodbye Lonely
Lost and Found
Somebody Take Me Home
In My Arms Instead
Down and Out
Kiss Me in The Dark
If I Had Another Heart, I’d Let You Break That One Too
This Time Around

January 5, 2012

Robert Earl Keen ~ Live @ HOB

There are many, many things that make us proud to call ourselves “ Texan”.  A few off the top of the head; the Hill country, great people, driving for days and being in the same state, and the music of Robert Earl Keen.  George may be the King, Willie the “red headed stranger”, but REK is that favorite Uncle that you can’t wait to see because he’s always up to something…and you know it’s gonna be a good time.

A Robert Earl Keen concert is much akin to attending a house party.  A slow and steady start that builds upon itself and hits a crescendo with someone swinging from a light fixture.  That pretty much makes seeing Mr. Keen anytime he comes through town a necessity, not a maybe.

Robert Earl Keen gets the best and most out of his five piece band.  They can get the crowd to sway and dance a two-step to songs such as “Love’s a Word I Never Throw Around” (a rarely played song!), or “Paint the Town Beige”.  They can tear down the house with “Amarillo Highway” and the always present “The Road Goes on Forever”.  But it’s the in-betweens where REK is at his best; being a story teller.

Robert has built his career telling great (and often outlandish) stories and presenting himself as the everyday man we all can relate to.  Whether it is the humorous; “Merry Christmas”, “That Buckin Song”, or the retelling of the past, “Feeling Good Again”, “Corpus Christie Bay”, he is always able to paint a crystal clear portrait of what he is trying to describe.  He combines the old, “I’m Coming Home” with the new “I Gotta Go” and has a ball doing so.  There is such a back catalog to choose from that he has just the right type of songs for any occasion.  And it is that back catalog that other bands would kill to have. 

We loved every song on the set-list @ HOB, and could still think of a baker’s dozen others that we would have killed to hear.  And that’s only part of the reason LoneStar Outlaw Review will be back next time he comes through town (and ever time after that, too!), because you just never know.

The beautiful thing about his shows is that they are for everyone; the preppy college kid, the frat guys, the music connoisseur, or even Mom and Dad out on a date night.  And since his type of music has no definition, it appeals to an even bigger audience.  To see Robert Earl Keen live is to get a lesson in what a good showman is.  He has the good humor (apparently his parents named him REK because James Coney Island was already taken), the ability to captivate, and the musical chops that nearly thirty years on the road will hone.  He is truly a treasure and a proud native son that always calls Texas home. 

Feeling Good Again
Gringo Honeymoon
Merry Christmas from the Family
I Gotta Go
Love’s a Word I Never Throw Around
Mr. Wolf and Momma Bear
Wild Wind
Who do Man
Corpus Christie Bay
Shades of Grey
Amarillo Highway
That Buckin Song
Ready for Confetti
Road Goes on and on
The Road Goes on Forever
Paint the Town Beige
I’m Coming Home
Merry Christmas from the Family (again)
Feliz Nafidad

Photo courtesy of: bradhodgephoto.com