Bloodshot Records/The Hideout Bar B Que Party
with Jon Langford, the Blacks, and Freakwater
The Green Mesquite • March 20, 1999
After nasty weather all week, the sun burst out in Austin Saturday afternoon just in time for the Bloodshot Records blast at the Green Mesquite. The event was also a showcase for the Hideout, the premier country music club in Chicago. I always thought it was Bob’s Country Bunker — oh well.
An enthusiastic crowd crammed onto the Green Mesquite Courtyard for a show that got off to a troubling start. Jon Langford and former Jody Grind belter and Bloodshot Records bigwig Kelly Hogan were supposed to perform together, but Hogan was a no-show, and Langford had to wing it on his own with fiddle player Champ Hood. They faked their way through a few songs in hopes Kelly Hogan would arrive, and then turned it loose on a Welsh-flavored cover of “Cocaine Blues.”
Next up were the Blacks, formerly the Black Family. With a line-up of acoustic guitar, banjo, drums, and an upright bass/harmonica player, these harmonizing honkytonkers tore it up. Eschewing the schtick of contemporaries like Southern Culture on the Skids, the Blacks play it straight. They believe in their sound and make believers out of their audience.
The third band to play was Freakwater, featuring Catherine Irwin and Janet Bean. After wearing out a couple of their albums, it was almost a relief to finally see Freakwater live. They have such an understanding and love for the hillbilly roots of the music, and they don’t work it for any camp value. They’ve taken the sound and developed their own unique voice that is pure and passionate. They played before an adoring audience that hung on every note, and remind you of all that is good about live music. It is heartening to see people like Kelly Hogan reminding us that country music is not the domain of Shania Twain and Garth Brooks.