Kieran Kane – 49th Street Cafe (Red Deer, AB)
Nights like this probably happen all the time in Austin and Raleigh. They just don’t happen on frozen prairie November nights in Red Deer, Alberta.
At least not until Kieran Kane pulled into town to perform at a tiny, sold-out coffeehouse for 50 appreciative patrons. The intimacy of the venue seemed to relax Kane. Playing his Gibson unaccompanied in a storefront window, Kane performed all the hits (“This Dirty Little Town”, “Eight More Miles”, “In a Town This Size”) that have won him a sizable local following.
He also accommodated a wide range of audience suggestions. Van Morrison’s “Irish Heartbeat”, covered on his new disc The Blue Chair, was played with suitable reverence. Kane’s true gift is creating his own multidimensional characters within four verses. One such song, “Rosie’s Gone” (written with his old O’Kanes partner Jamie O’Hara), held the crowd in silence.
Anecdotes about each song worked well in the tight confines of the coffeehouse. “(You’re Just) Takin’ Up Space” came with an engaging story of how it wasn’t written about his Dead Reckoning partner Kevin Welch’s love life tribulations. A moment of irony arrived when, bathed in orange neon from the strip club across the street, Kane concluded “Table Top Dancer” with, “You might not have places like that up here.” Kane wrapped up his second set with a sincere warning to “watch out for those who are not watching out” before launching into a stunning rendition of “When We’re Gone, Long Gone”.
Encouraged back for an encore, Kane met his previous commitment to play a seldom-heard request, “Find My Way Home”. This song, which reflects on a lifetime of regrets, found him expressing the common desire to “rebuild every bridge I’ve burned.” The night ended with Kane stretching, stomping and growling his way through more numbers from The Blue Chair, including “Four Questions”.
Thanks to a guy who plays for reasons more than money, and a promoter with the same attitude, the near impossible occurred in Red Deer. Nashville’s best found a welcome home, if only for a few hours, in small-town Alberta.