Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Mark Gamsjager
“You know there ain’t no cure for the honky tonk blues,
And if they come up with somethin’, I’ll develop an immunity…”
He’s got wanderlust in his blood, romance in his heart and a mischievous glint in his eye.
Joe Ely is a true Texas troubadour, a poet-rambler, a storyteller as much as a singer-songwriter. And, oh, what stories he can tell…
With multi-instrumentalist Jeff Plankenhorn seated beside him, Ely unreeled a magical musical mash-up of swagger, swing and late-night serenades that blew through the Hangar like the West Texas wind. “The Highway Is My Home,” he sang, but when he gets the urge for going, Ely is likely to hop on board the nearest available mode of transportation – whether he’s riding a red Contintental down the road (“Saint Valentine”), rumblin’ along on a freight train (“Boxcars”) or gazing down from an airplane (“Dallas”).
It was only a Thursday, but Ely treated the crowd like it was a Saturday night, digging out hits, deep album tracks, requests and wild, woolly stories. He’s been doing this for a long time – I have one particularly vivid memory of a night when he totally tore it up in Clifton Park, back when the Upstate Concert Hall was still known as Tiger’s Pub. And although in Troy, it was an intimate, acoustic two-man concert rather than a wild, go-for-the-throat, rock and roll dance party, Ely brought the same intensity and commitment to his songs.
Ely’s concert was the first big event at the Hangar, a relatively new venue located on Troy’s River Street, just across the way from the Ale House. And it might just be the best new venue in Nippertown. Like David Johansen might say, “funky but chic.” It sports a raw, industrial interior decor that’s also somehow cozy and welcoming – making it a perfect fit for Joe Ely’s music.
JOE ELY SET LIST
All Just to Get to You
Tonight I Think I’m Gonna Go Downtown (Jimmie Dale Gilmore)
It’s a Little Like Love
When the Nights Are Cold (Jimmie Dale Gilmore)
You Can Bet I’m Gone
The Highway Is My Home
Treat Like a Saturday Night (Jimmie Dale Gilmore)
Letter to Laredo
Leo and Leona (Butch Hancock)
I Saw It in You
Me and Billy the Kid
Not That Much Has Changed
Wind’s Gonna Blow You Away (Butch Hancock)
Boxcars (Butch Hancock)
Dallas (Jimmie Dale Gilmore)
Sowing On the Mountain (Flatlanders)
Live Forever (Billy Joe Shaver)
Wishing for a Rainbow (Flatlanders)
Because of the Wind
Hard Livin’ (David Halley)