A couple weeks ago Tom Russell stopped by the station before his show at Off Broadway.
We talked about: the state of modern radio, Leonard Cohen’s “There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in” and how that applies to shamelessly broadcasting dusty vinyl, fanbase interactions, The Blogosphere, the edginess of Juarez and the borderland, edginess, Dylan, Bukowski, machismo, “insurgent country,” the kinship between songwriting and painting that excludes poetry, art, REAL SONGS, “New Folk,” “insurgent country,” Andy Warhol, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Willem de Kooning, Mt. Olive, IL, Mother Jones, Merle Travis’ “Dark as a Dungeon” and “Sixteen Tons” & a whole bunch of other subjects that did, as you might expect, include other famous names, but also other things.
For all you KWUR loverboys–TR name-dropped us at Off Broadway that night, citing “graffiti on the walls and DJs sleeping on the floor,” that anecdote meandering to the oblique conclusion “America still exists inside used book stores and on the faces of Amish women” (which I believe he credited as a Lenny Bruce paraphrase). This was a sit-down Off Broadway show and the KDHX sponsorship unsurprisingly ensured the joint was brimming with blue hairs appalled at having to wait in line on Lemp before the doors opened. Great show – the man clearly thrives under the spotlight and his on-stage charisma surpasses his studio delivery (not to undercut the albums). I especially dug an extended version of TR’s Dave Van Ronk monologue and the included phlegmy DVR impersonations: “shut up and listen to this goddamn song!” and the clever but somewhat meaningless banter introducing “Criminologist,” centering around the “New Folk” heroes and their high voices. “Navajo Rug” encore brought down the house (in a staid, sitdownshow sense, natch).