Fifteen years ago my life changed when I married my college girlfriend and we moved from our two-bedroom apartment in the Adam’s Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC to a house in Annapolis, MD.
As Annapolitans we took to the local customs which include listening to the locally-owned independent radio station WRNR. It was around this time when we were first introduced to a band that has been our favorite since — the Old 97’s.
Over the years we’ve seen them perform on a boat, a club and a theater. We’ve seen lead vocalist Rhett Miller perform solo in a number of venues (including the intimate Rams Head On Stage a few times) and have had the pleasure to chat with him on most every occasion. We recently had the opportunity to see the Old 97’s at the Rams Head On Stage from our usual front row center table. Seeing your favorite band is always special, seeing them from a front row center table is certainly a thrill and this legendary Texas alt-country band delivered a set for the ages.
Kicking off the show with the spirited “Won’t Be Home,” long-time fans knew they were in for a special night as Miller was already doing the “Rhett strum” (think Pete Townshend’s windmill, but with a shorter/faster spin).
After the first song Miller joked to the politely seated audience, “I won’t lie to you that it’s the weirdest [FN] gig we do.” Everyone had a good laugh and the band broke into two classics “Salome,” and bassist Murray Hammond’s “W. TX Teardrops.”
The band marched on playing such fan favorites as “Indefinitely,” “Designs on You,” and another Hammond lead vocal track “Crash on the Barrelhead.”
As with any Old’s show Miller’s charisma took center stage whether it be on the tender love song “Question” or the riotously epic “Barrier Reef.”
The Texas country rockers closed their set with the infectious “Every Night is Friday Night Without You” and an apocalyptic version of “Most Messed Up.”
Without missing a beat the band came back for an encore that included the whiskey soaked “Let’s Get Drunk and Get It On” and a raucous version of “Timebomb.”
Twenty-some years strong the Old 97’s are still one of the most respected alt-country bands in America. They continue to thrill their fans by playing some of the most high-energy country songs, and there is no reason to believe that they will ever slow down. If all goes well, we can expect new music from the Old’s this fall, and if history tells me anything, it will be one of the best albums of 2016.