Patterson Hood – Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company (Asheville, NC)
O irony, where are thou! On January 10, 300 well-heeled Asheville parrotheads paid upwards of $5,000 for the dubious privilege of seeing their guru Jimmy Buffett do a brief set at his newly-opened Cheeseburger In Paradise restaurant. Across town three nights later, music heads converged on the local cinema and drafthouse to snap up all 135 tickets — at a more than reasonable $10 a pop — for a unique show featuring Drive-By Truckers frontman Patterson Hood. This was more than irony. This was poetic justice.
Hood certainly gave punters their money’s worth, with two sets bookending a screening of filmmaker Ray McKinnon’s Oscar-winning 2001 short The Accountant (the inspiration behind the Truckers’ Decoration Day standout “Sink Hole”). Joined by DBTs drummer Brad Morgan on snare, Hood, wielding a gold Les Paul, took the small stage and began strumming the opening chords to “Rising Son” (from Hood’s recent solo disc Killers And Stars), a tune about a hellraiser grudgingly coming to grips with his destiny.
It was an appropriate start, for most of the evening — film included — served as an extended meditation upon bleakness, desperation and the curious karmic baggage that comes with being southern. With the audience hooting knowingly at such lines as, “Sometimes I feel like shit/Sometimes it ain’t half of it,” or, “I’ve always been a thrill seeker/Still fucking up” (“Company I Keep” and “Tales Facing Up”, respectively, both from the just-reissued 1999 Truckers album Pizza Deliverance), Hood and Morgan must’ve felt they were among family.
Particularly rousing was “Wallace,” the George Wallace-goes-to-hell Southern Rock Opera gem; Hood prefaced the tune with a monologue about writing it the night the racist ex-governor of Alabama died (“That sonofabitch, Wallace,” growled Hood). The unreleased “Screwtopia” (“this one’s either really old or really new”) was a spare, minimalist number seemingly about revisiting one’s old stomping grounds. The stripped-down format served both the material and the musicians well, affording more space and subtler dynamics than at a typical DBT show.
Morgan, for his part, played almost exclusively with brushes, although he didn’t shy away from whacking down hard whenever Hood picked up a head of steam — which was often, the guitarist chopping at his fretboard and stomping his foot for emphasis. (As the stage lights cast tall shadows upon the movie screen behind the musicians, it was humorous to view Hood striking — unintentionally — an array of rock star poses.)
Fittingly, “Sink Hole” opened the second set. The film, a 38-minute black comedy about two Georgia brothers about to lose their family farm and the beer-guzzling eccentric who arrives to be their savior, was still fresh in the audience’s mind, and as a result, certain lyric details in the song “five generations and an unlocked door,” “pictures of my purdy family in the house” took on additional resonance. The overlap of the twin art forms of cinema and rock ‘n’ roll was sweet.
By contrast, those parrotheads of a few nights earlier never stood a chance.