Fred Eaglesmith and the Squirrels
The Star Bar, Atlanta, GA • June 21st 1999
After making the long trek from Canada, and their last gig in Asheville NC, Fred and the Squirrels played in Atlanta for only the second time in six years. Fred and the Squirrels found a very appreciative audience of about 30 hard-core individuals who were willing to give up three or four hours of sleep on a Monday night to take advantage of this opportunity. Those in attendance will do well to savor the memories of this show. Opportunities to see Eaglesmith in such an intimate setting are very likely to disappear soon. Word is, come this fall, drums will be added, and I guarantee you that this band is ready to really rock out when that happens. Many of these songs still rocked, even in the semi-acoustic treatment that he used on this tour. Percussion, complements of “Washboard Hank,” was delivered via a metal construction helmet with a toy cymbal mounted on top, and a washboard that was adorned with all kinds of “found” objects which he strapped to his chest and played with a glove full of thimbles. Word from previous shows is that when he really gets going, Hank can do a pretty good Pete Townshend windmill. Musically, besides Fred’s well-crafted songs and powerful delivery, the star here was Willie P. Bennett on electric mandolin.
Eaglesmith’s set consisted of only a couple of cuts from his new electric release, 50 Odd Dollars . “Blue Tick Hound” and his tribute to Bluegrass legend Carter Stanley, “Carter,” were included, but Fred mostly drew from his two prior releases, Drive In Movie and Lipstick, Lies and Gasoline with just a smattering of songs from his older albums being presented in this show. Noticeably absent was his “Time to Get a Gun” from LL&G , perhaps just resting for awhile so as not to get tagged with unwanted associations?
This was one of the most respectful crowds I’ve been a part of in a very long while. The chattering level was at an absolute minimum, and most everyone seemed willing to forego even trips to the restroom until the set was completely over. One of the better shows I’ve seen in years.