Christmas Night In The Lou With Brian Henneman
Sooooo… one of the great regrets is, as i age prematurely and stay alive (against all odds) I am seeing less and less live music. This is sad on a number of fronts because I love live shows and it indicates the obvious deterioration that people who know me cannot be surprised by. It is not longer surprising me…which is also sad. For years I have been wanting to see Brian Henneman’s Christmas show at the Duck Room. For years I have gotten finished with our families rather rigorous Christmas schedule and
decided that between:
1. What is the right thing to do,
2. I am very tired,
3. I do not want my wife irritated with me,
4. I am tired.
For those reasons I have always ducked the show which sounded like a festive thing. Henneman has fronted his band The Bottle Rockets for years since the halcyon days of alt-country when Uncle Tupelo tapped him to hold up the elctric end on their tours. He hails from the Festus/Crystal City metroplex and frankly…really tears it up. His band The Bottle Rockets did there best work a long time ago but he wrote and cut some brilliant songs with them over the years. Henneman has been a reasonably colorful guy around town over the years showing up and playing at a lot of other peoples shows.
This year my son Jon was in town for Christmas. Jon has always been bitter at the The Duck Room and their 21 and up shows which precluded him from seeing a lot of good concerts and tended to relegate him to the big rooms like the Pageant. He was blessed with seeing some shows at Mississippi Nights before they close but not nearly enough and then they closed. He has been in college and working out of town in summers so… he has not been home a lot to enjoy the beauty that IS the Duck Room.
As I stated Henneman has been doing this Christmas Show on Christmas Evening for years and I have never had the energy or motivation to go but this year…finally…Jon and I made the trip to U-City and saw the show. When we walked in around 9:30 the venerable St. louis “personality” Fred Friction was opening. Friction is famous for his former band The Highway Matrons and for running the now closed and lamented “Frederick’s Music Lounge” down on Chippewa. Friction is a frightening tragicomic figure who is probably in his mid fifties but looks like a 70 year old heroin addict. He resembles a dark haired Iggy Pop and I do not say that in a kind way. Still, he was fun to watch for a little.
Henneman came on stage promptly at 10 and immediately tore in to the back catalogue with the old Bottle Rockets ballad of “Kerosene”. A lot of Henneman’s songs spring from the newspapers but this was a particular one about a Jefferson County family that decided that since they were out of kerosene their heater would work just as well with gasoline. Ooops. It was a middle aged crows and the place was about 1/2 full and there was a nice middle aged lady fan, drunk, calling out all the songs. He played a lot of the Bottle Rocket catalogue and hit all the high points over a two hour set including Indianapolis, 1000 Dollar Car and Sunday Sports In His Boxer Shorts. In the middle he strapped on an electric and tore it up on the first electric version of “Early In The Morning” that I have ever heard.
He then brought out a guy names “Steve” who joined him for a great version of the Old Crow Medicine Shows song “Wagon Wheel” and a few more Bottle Rocket chestnuts with Fred Friction on spoons. It was sweet. The show rapped up promptly at midnight with his classic “Welfare Music” and I think the whole crowd left feeling strangely and satisfyingly full on this Christmas night and i think my son and I might have a new tradition. At least for next year. From The St. Louis Diner Review: http://stldinerreview.blogspot.com/