Review by Fred Rudofsky
Armed with a trove of songs, paintings for sale, and bawdy jokes (including a couple told by his son, Detroit) unlike those of anyone else on the planet, Hamell On Trial put on a dynamic Saturday night show at the Low Beat.
An extended break-neck rhythm pattern established the tension of a shaken universe in “A Little Concerned, That’s All,” a key song from Tough Love. Next, Hamell joked that he would be featuring a 45-minute interpretive dance number, but chose instead to sing off-microphone the bizarre yet true trio of drug-related tales of “When You Are Young,” set to an indelibly bouncy Yiddish folk melody. “Seven Seas,” a staple of his live show for many years, offered newcomers to Hamell On Trial a chance to hear the story of the vintage acoustic guitar he bought one day from Buzzy on Lark Street. Some of Hamell’s most beloved songs -”Blood of the Wolf,” “Hail,” “Inquiring Minds” and “Bill Hicks” (the latter by request, thank you) were written on it and featured in the set.