Dear August/Tim Easton/Jentri Colello/Josh Harty; December 5, 2009; High Noon Saloon
Tim Easton is supposed to be on tour with the Sadies. Their first show together was the night before in Chicago, and it apparently went quite well. Then the Sadies packed up their stuff and went to record with Neil Young, canceling their next two gigs. While I understand that this may be a once in a lifetime opportunity, it did leave Easton in a bit of a bind, not to mention the promoters in both cities. Tag was visibly glum as he sat at the end of the bar at the High Noon watching a much smaller than expected crowd take in the show which had been expanded to include a Josh Harty solo set early in the evening and Dear August at the end of the night. Not that there was anything wrong with this idea, but most folks I know were actually looking forward to an early evening and getting home reasonably early.
Oddly enough, it had been several years since I had last seen Easton. In fact, the only time I had seen him since he played my first real house concert back in April of 05 was a short set at Twangfest a few years back. Other than some (adorable) grey in his beard, he hasn’t really changed much since I first met him many years ago. Tonight, rather than do his standard acoustic solo set, he seemed to sense the people were looking for something a little more rocking and recruited Dear August drummer Tyler Applegate to back him up. The arrangement worked surprisingly well. Despite never having played most of the songs before, Tyler fell into an easy groove with Easton, taking his simple instructions and making the most of them. Easton made the set even a little more rock & roll by borrowing an electric guitar from the closing band, and jamming on that until he broke a string. He was obviously disappointed, commenting that he had really started to like that guitar.
He switched back to his acoustic and finished the set, keeping Tyler up there for all but one song, the pretty “Carry Me” (quite possibly the song that made me fall in love with his sophomore record The Truth about Us). While he made the most of having a drummer for rockers like “Just Like Home,” he mysteriously saved live favorite “Lexington Jail” for “later.” It turns out that Dear August cover that song, in addition to the sad character study “John Gilmartin,” and they were quite obviously delirious to get a chance to play the songs with him during their set. Rather than let him go after that pair of songs, the set turned into a bit of a Dylan jam session as they played seemingly every Dylan song they knew. And there were quite a few, since Dear August plays the Dylan celebration in Spring Green every year and has been featured as part of Tex Tubbs birthday bash.
They aren’t the only Madison band who covers Easton. Though I’m sure I certainly would have met Josh Harty by now, I ended up meeting him the very first night I saw him play when “Carry Me” showed up in the middle of his set. I couldn’t resist going over after his terrific set and commenting on the song, mentioning that I knew Easton. That was nearly four years ago. I had to smile during his opening set when he told the story of the first night he played the High Noon shortly after moving here from Fargo and getting busted by a girl who knew that wasn’t his song.
It’s a shame the Sadies weren’t there to see how much Madison loves Tim Easton.