Yes, I have arrived at blog posting number 97. Usually, people celebrate even numbers like 100, 500, 1000, etc. But you see, 97 is a truly special number to me. If you have to ask why, then you obviously do not know me very well.
Where do I begin the story? I suppose it begins in high school, when my friend Catherine brought a musician named Rhett Miller to play an Amnesty International benefit. It was love at first listen. His songs were a unique blend of rock, folk, country, and pop that captivated me. Many of the songs were never released on an album, like “All Right By Me”, “Leavin’ Shoes”, and “L.A. Like a Hole”. I consider myself lucky to have these songs on cassette, and if ever my house burns down, I’m leaving with my cats and that cassette.
When I first heard Old 97’s, I was a little thrown by how heavy the country influence was. Sure, I was used to a little twang and an occasional banjo even (one of the songs one the cassette is an alternate version of “Desperate Times”, found on Hitchhike to Rhome). I was not prepared, however, for the amount of country influence in the CD. This was at a point in my life where I really did not like country music. Fortunately, I received Hitchhike to Rhome as a Christmas gift, and with further listens, I became enamored with the band.
The rest, for me, is history. There is no other artist that has had a bigger influence on my life than Old 97’s. If not for the band, I never would have taken the time to experience the local music scene. They also opened my eyes up to the fact that not all country sounds like Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks.
So on this, blog post number 97, I cannot think of a better thing to do than to discuss Old 97’s. The original plan for this post was to do an interview with Old 97’s bassist, Ken Bethea. Alas, we have been playing quite the game of telephone tag, and while I do still plan to do the interview, that will have to wait. Hopefully I will at least get the interview done in time to celebrate the release of their upcoming CD, Blame It on Gravity. I’ve only heard the lead single, “Dance with Me”, but word of mouth has it that it ranks as one of their finest. So for those disappointed by Drag It Up, perhaps this will be more of the return to form that Drag It Up was supposed to be.
Also, for those who didn’t know, Old 97’s will be playing May 31st at House of Blues. Get your tickets early, as I have no doubt tickets will sell out. I waited late for the last HOB show, and wound up standing in the balcony, last row, FAR right side. Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad I was at the show, but standing in the nosebleed section isn’t exactly the best way to experience the band. No, the best way to experience Old 97’s is standing on the floor, packed in like sardines, and screaming the lyrics with 1,000 or so of your new closest friends.
I leave you with a video of Old 97’s performing at Granada Theater last October for the Carter Albrecht Memorial. The song is “Victoria” from their Wreck Your Life CD, and it features the classic line “She lost her lover to an accident at sea/She pushed him overboard and ended up with me”. This is further proof of the songwriting genius that is Rhett Miller. Anywho, enjoy the video, and hurry and get your tickets!