Caitlin Cary / Kevn Kinney / Jason Isbell – Pour House (Raleigh, NC)
Despite the participants’ teasing threat to get themselves an Aerostar and take the show nationwide, this gathering will most likely go down as a one-time-only event. Collectively billed as “Tres Tangled Truckers” after their respective current projects (Tres Chicas, Sun Tangled Angel Revival, Drive-By Truckers), Caitlin Cary, Kevn Kinney and Jason Isbell made the most of it, from the first song to an everybody-sings encore of “The Times They Are A-Changin'” some two and a half hours later.
Cary’s gorgeous, evening-opening “Fireworks” found Isbell contemplating her fiddle playing over a Camel, Kinney grinning appreciatively at an especially nailed note, and Gib Droll (who, along with Tres Chicas member Dave Bartholomew, provided all-night support for the trio) joining in on guitar near the song’s end as if he’d been on Cary’s payroll for years. And when Kinney capped the first trip down the line with “Midwestern Blues”, following Isbell’s rugged “Whisper”, four guitars and a violin fell in line to drive the chorus. That teamwork, and the obvious all-around respect which accompanied it, set the tone for the rest of the show.
Trip two was equally memorable, as Cary started with “Something Less Than Something More”, a lively country number destined for an album of duets with Thad Cockrell due out later this spring. Sticking with the new material theme, Isbell played an as-yet untitled song he had just finished earlier in the day. All dark truths and smarts and grit, the song and the performance chewed up and spit out the thought that was on the minds of more than a couple folks in the crowd, namely, “I wonder if Jason Isbell will be any good solo.” Playing along, Kinney then introduced the love song “Kinda Like You” as “a work in progress,” and backed it up with lyrics like, “There’ll be a line about how we met.”
A subsequent highlight was what Cary christened a round of “Daddy songs.” Isbell’s popular “Outfit” spun nicely out of Cary’s brilliantly brittle “Hold On To Me”, both setting the stage for a monumental version of “Broken Hearts And Auto Parts” from Kinney, complete with a lengthy, Springsteenish monologue that was as hilarious as it was disarmingly poignant. The punchline, delivered in the tale by Kinney’s father and true to the song’s title, revealed the key to both relationships and cars: maintenance.
Elsewhere, Cary’s Tres Chicas pal Lynn Blakey defined harmony singing when she joined Cary for “Desire” and “In A While”, and Isbell continued to impress courtesy of The Dirty South pair “Danko/Manuel” and “Goddamn Lonely Love”, with a stage-right Kinney playing the elder statesman masquerading as your slightly eccentric uncle. And it was Kinney’s “The Country Song” that served up perhaps the sweetest moments of the show, as the crowd joined in whenever the line, “This star’s for country, and June and Johnny Cash,” came around.
It was a fitting refrain, as it was easy to believe the much-missed pair would have enjoyed this night, a time of song-swapping, good humor, and great cheer. Shoot, had they been around to join us, they might even have threatened to go barnstorming in that minivan with the others.