LIVE: The Dave Rawlings Machine @ The Egg, 11/7/15
Review by Bokonon
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Thirty years ago d. boon obliquely suggested cutting down on the guitar solos. I’m good with that. I could live a long happy life without hearing another guitar solo. But Dave Rawlings doesn’t count. He can play as many as he wants to, whenever, wherever he wants.
Rawlings played some solos at The Egg recently, yes, yes he did. And he could have played more. It would have been OK, even d. boon says so.
Rawlings brings such invention and opportunity to every pass on the six-string, cascading lines full of seconds and ninths, brilliant raindrops of sound. Much is made in the geek world of his ’36 Olympic, but the fact is it’s all about his hands. Epic. Swirling. Enchanting.
It was the Dave Rawlings Machine’s debut in town – the flip side of Gillian Welch – with the lad tackling the majority of the lead vocals, along with those leads, but with the whole deal still sounding like its doppelganger. And Welch, harmonizing all night, did grab a turn or two at the helm, including the always mesmerizing “Look at Miss Ohio.”
The duo is now entrenched, respected shining lights in the alt.country roots world. It’s because the shimmering mix of sounds and words is just so damn good. But where the Welch thing leans towards the spooky and ominous, the Rawlings thing (its “machine” element borrowed from Woody Guthrie’s guitar) sometimes bends humorous, and often veers psychedelic, as in “The Trip” and “The Weekend,” from the new album, Nashville Obsolete.
Former Old Crow Medicine Show folksinger Willie Watson, along with ace Crooked Still fiddler Brittany Haas and Punch Brothers bassist Paul Kowert made the band a quintet and each was featured for a tune or two.
But it really was Rawlings’ show, and not just for the guitar solos. He strapped on a banjo for “It’s Too Easy,” the gospel nugget “He Will Set Your Fields On Fire” and the raw magic of “To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High).” And he simply shone on “Short Haired Woman Blues” and a fusion of the Grateful Dead’s “Candyman” with Bob Dylan’s “Dear Landlord.”
The band also tackled Dylan’s “Queen Jane Approximately,” Woody’s “This Land…” and The Band’s “The Weight,” finishing the night with an a cappella run, around one mic, of “Didn’t Leave Nobody But the Baby.”
Now if they’d just cuss more in their songs…
Greg Haymes’ review at The Times Union
THE DAVE RAWLINGS MACHINE SET LIST
The Last Pharaoh
The Way It Goes (sung by Gillian Welch)
To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High) (Ryan Adams)
Keep It Clean (sung by Willie Watson)
Dear Landlord (Bob Dylan) > Candyman (Grateful Dead)
It’s Too Easy
Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad
Short Haired Woman Blues
He Will Set Your Fields On Fire (Bill Monroe)
Sweet Tooth (duo)
I Hear Them All > This Land Is Your Land (Woody Guthrie) (trio)
Stewball (sung by Willie Watson)
Look at Miss Ohio (sung by Gillian Welch)
Queen Jane Approximately (Bob Dylan)
The Weight (The Band)
Didn’t Leave Nobody But the Baby (a cappella)