concert: hayes carll & corb lund @ southland ballroom

hayes carll @ local 506

hayes carll @ southland ballroom

well, you’re probably a democrat
why, what the hell is wrong with that?
nothing if you’re taliban
well, i bet you slept with half the south
oh, don’t you ever shut your mouth?
yeah, how much did you pay for that tan?

The top photo here is one I took of Hayes Carll almost five years ago, at the Local 506. It was the year Trouble In Mind came out, and he was starting to take off outside of Texas and Tennessee. It was also, to the best of my knowledge, the first show I shot with my first dSLR (my beloved and late lamented D60 Six). I took it with the kit lens, before Rusty fixed the front lights, and I was frustrated by my shots that night. I like this photo, now, in retrospect. I like it more next to the shot I took of Hayes Monday night at Southland Ballroom, partially because the lights are better — but mostly because I’m better.

On a day to day basis, it’s hard to see concrete growth in what you do, you know? But I hadn’t seen Hayes since that show five years ago, and I can look at those photos and say, I have learned things. I’m working through a bunch of stuff what with sobriety and all, right now, and I have had some moments of clarity over the last few weeks that have been important. None of them were more important than shooting Hayes last night, and feeling like I was somewhere better than I was five years ago.

So is Hayes, for that matter — in 2009, he played to a half full 506, and Monday, he played to a mostly full Southland Ballroom. His songwriting is as sharp and funny as ever, if not more so, and while Trouble In Mind got a lot of good word of mouth in the Americana blogging community, KMAG YOYO got even more critical acclaim. The old and new sounded good last night, and his band is tight as hell, with standouts Warren Hood on fiddle and Emily Gimble playing keys and backing / harmonizing with Hayes. “Another Like You”, one of my all-time Hayes songs, is a laugh-out-louder anyway, and with Gimble’s sly delivery and their obvious mutual musical respect, it was a high point of a high set.

hayes carll @ southland ballroom

And it’s five years later, and Hayes and I both seem to be doing just fine. (Also, dude, one of those photos from 2009? Hayes’ pedal steel player is smoking on stage. Back when you could smoke inside in the NC! I had almost forgotten.)

corb lund & the hurtin' albertans @ southland ballroom

corb lund & the hurtin' albertans @ southland ballroom

“A few years ago I decided there weren’t enough women at my gigs, so to rectify that I wrote an album full of military history songs.”

Corb Lund, on the other hand, I’ve never seen, though I’ve loved his wry Canadian take on classic country since 2006 and “Always Keep An Edge On Your Knife”. There’s something about Lund that’s aaaaalmost slick enough to be sleazy, but his charm is honest and I think it’s that, well, edge that makes his music — 7 full-length LPs worth — so charming … and occasionally deliciously sleazy. His band — a band full of really talented musicians and great hair — plowed through a good hour’s worth of set that spanned most of Lund’s records as Corb Lund & the Hurtin’ Albertans, including the tune he co-wrote with Hayes, “Bible On The Dash”.

It was such a fun night — a happy crowd, great musicians, songs I love. Full set here.

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