Stevie Tombstone with guest Loren Barrigar at Creekside Books and Coffee, Skaneateles, NY (1/5/2013)
Central New York is in the middle of a cold snap. Mother Nature has also blessed/cursed us with 2 feet of snow. A night housebound, curled up with a good book, was an attractive option. Add the temptation of the Packers-Vikings rematch and venturing out 40 miles from home was less likely as the time to leave approached. I am very glad I braved the cold, dark drive through back country roads to catch Mr. Tombstone “Live”.
His latest release “Greenwood” is an excellent account of his excursion through life as Musician, husband and father. A bit gritty, most definitely open-eyed. You believe him when he sings about life on the road and being “Lucky” to still be alive, not in jail, and loved.
Stevie took the floor solo for the first two songs. “Don’t Know What I’m Gonna Do” from his 2011 release Slow Drunken Waltz, asks the question “what now” and I’ve asked it of myself more than I’d admit. Stevie sings and plays it better than I could express the feeling.
“7:30 A.M.” the title cut from that album, followed. His voice is strong, with a world weary delivery, minus the raspy growl of some like Springsteen, Tom Waits ( wait, that’s too extreme an example). He doesn’t attack you, he draws you in. His strength is in his lyrics, and a clear, low key delivery. He doesn’t need to shout to get you to listen.
Guest Lorren Barrigar on acoustic guitar came out with Stevie’s wife Melissa on bass. They hit a couple from Greenwood that just exploded with the fuller trio sound.. “ Just Ain’t Right ” led into the excellent title track. A country/blues tale about delivering a gravestone to one of the many supposed resting places of Robert Johnson.
Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Bottom Dollar” followed which led to some serious picking by Loren.
I’ll say it now and get it out of the way. Loren Barrigar was doing some serious picking all night long. A student and friend of Tommy Emmanuel CGP, Loren is a Central New York favorite. One of our most precious treasures. The first time I saw Loren his version of “Over The Rainbow” brought tears to my eyes. He’s THAT good. Or else I’m way too emotional. In my opinion , what makes Loren such an amazing player is how unselfish he is. When he accompanies someone he lays back and let’s the song progress as the singer/songwriter; in this case Mr. Tombstone; intended. He’ll entrance you with beautiful lines, interwoven within the melody, but he doesn’t rip the strings off until the song is ready for it. And he can rip with the best of them. Check Loren out at http://www.lorenbarrigar.com/
One of many stand out songs was “I’d Lose It All”. A melodic promise to his love that he’d give up everything just for her. Sounds like an old story, but it’s fresher when he sings it, or than I tell it.
Interspersed with a few more tracks from 7:30 A.M. and Greenwood were covers of “Long Black Veil” (the Louvin Bros. version) and Townes “White Freight Liner Blues” to finish off the first hour.
After a short intermission Loren Barrigar was given center stage for two solo instrumental songs. The classic “Blue Moon” and his own “TE’s Ramble” written in tribute to Tommy Emmanuel. I know I wasn’t going to say it again, but this man can rip! With feeling!
Stevie’s 2nd set opened with a Johnny Cash cover that I really wish I could remember. Write it down! But it was not an overly well known Mr. Cash song and Stevie made it his own, thus making it more difficult to recollect. That’s my excuse for forgetting it anyway.
While he did play most from his latest over the course of the evening, Stevie mixed a few of his earlier songs, “Kevlar Heart” , “Slow Drunken Waltz” , with some choice covers. Hank Sr.’s “You Win Again” was a stand out. Also “You Don’t Miss Your Water ( till the well runs dry)”. I was most familiar with the Byrds version. It was closer to that than Otis Redding’s. A romping “Goodnight Irene” was thrown in. A folk standard, with the Tombstone twist.
The closing song was a first for me. The trio finished with the same song Stevie opened with solo. “Don’t Know What I’m Gonna Do”. That was interesting, and surprisingly, not the least bit redundant.
Something else I’d like to mention was Mr. Tombstone’s fan friendly demeanor. Before the show, after the show, he was making time for any fan that wanted to get an autograph or just say hey. I spoke to him for a while.
Me: Is it hard to get around for tour dates now that you live here.?
S.T. : ” It works out OK. I play a lot of shows in New England so being close makes it easy to get to.”
Me: Why here in snow country? From Atlanta , Austin and Arkansas to ……. here?
S.T. : “Melissa (his wife) has a lot of family here. It’s good to be close to them. Mine is spread all over.
Me: I’m glad I made the trip out tonight. Fantastic show.
S.T. : “Thank you. Loren playing made it fun. He’s so good! How far did you come?”
Me: About 40 miles. Whatever brought you to CNY, glad you’ll be playing around here a lot. Would you do me a favor and sign the set list I picked up off the floor.
S.T. : ” Be happy too. Glad you made the long trip. Thanks again for coming.”
Some more small talk and I gave him the name of a place for the best BBQ in the DFW area. He’s on his way out there.
So if your in the Dallas-Fort Worth area check him out at Bronco’s in Hurst on the 9th of January.
He’ll be touring throughout the great state of Texas the next few weeks. Midland, Boerne, Houston, Austin.
Then on up to PA and VT.
Trust me, he’s well worth the trip!
For more info go to http://www.stevietombstone.com/