Thursday, November 13, 2008

Steve Wynn & the Miracle Three/Walter Salas-Humara; November 13, 2008; Martyrs’

Ever since the Silos played at the House of Righteous Music in March ’07, I’d been looking forward to having Walter and the band back at the house. I thought we finally had that date worked out, but Walter’s plans changed and he wanted to do this weekend instead of the date I was holding for the next weekend. Unfortunately I already had tickets to tomorrow night’s (sold out) Rock & Roll Means Well tour with the Drive By Truckers and Hold Steady, and another house concert already booked for the next night. It was a somewhat last-minute decision to tag along with Alex on her trip to Martyrs,’ but one I was ultimately glad I made.

What actually persuaded me was the e-mail that Walter had sent out. He mentioned that he not only would he be playing solo, but that he would also be featuring some of the songs from the I’m Not Jim CD. A curious collaboration with genre bending author Jonathan Lehmen, You Are All My People contains some of the most interesting and experimental music I’ve heard from the Silos frontman. The unusual writing format found the two of them collaborating on the words and bares-bones melodies. The rest was filled in later by the Elegant Two a production team consisting of Chris Maxwell and Phil Hernandez who used some of Walter’s melodies, but in some cases came up with something completely new… which made it a “remix without an original release. An original remix.”

Surprisingly, or maybe not, the songs held up quite well stripped back to their inception format. He stayed clear of the more difficult tracks like the spoken word piece “Howard” and the joke and punchline (though not necessarily in that order) composition “Walks In” which probably couldn’t be translated to a live setting anyway. Straightforward standout tracks like the true story “The Pitchers Gave Up” (about a ridiculously high scoring game) sounded terrific, while the more ordinary track “Uncomplicated” positively blossomed live. Miracle Three guitarist Jason Victor joined Walter for a handful of Silos songs in the second half of his set. While he concentrated on the most recent Silos release, Come On Like the Fast Lane, older tracks like the epic “Drugs” also made a welcome appearance.

Steve Wynn has been around for quite awhile, starting with his seminal Paisley Underground band The Dream Syndicate through this year’s Baseball Project release with the charming Minus 5/Young Fresh Fellows mastermind Scott McCaughey. I wish he would have played some of those songs. The American Pastime-centric tracks on the Project record are entertaining and engaging, but it was all I could do to keep my eyes open during his set. Ably backed by the Miracle Three (which included the talented Linda Pitman on drums, she’s no Janet Weiss, but she’s pretty damn good), it all certainly sounded good, but I was, um, bored. I feel bad admitting that, especially since Walter and some fellow Twangfesters in the audience seemed to love it, but maybe it just wasn’t my thing. But, as always, I’ll certainly give it another shot next time he comes around.

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