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Down-Home Brew

Learning to speak wino, and other lessons from the road, with Eleven Hundred Springs

"You guys just started yelling at that girl that got up on stage, man," Hillyer laughs, referring to a gig in San Angelo. "Yelling at her, man."

"You know how sometimes, at some of the smaller bars, people get up on stage to ask for something?" Alford explains. "We opened up for Pat Green, and within four or five songs of the set, it seemed like, she started to walk up the steps, and I was like, 'Get the hell out!' And Steve turns around and yells at her, too."

"Yelling at her, man, like right in her face," Hillyer adds.

The "long-haired, tattooed hippie freaks" don't let their image problem dog them around.
The "long-haired, tattooed hippie freaks" don't let their image problem dog them around.

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Friday, November 15, at the Rhythm Room, 1815 Washington, 713-863-0493, and Saturday, November 16, at the Continental Club, 3700 Main, 713-529-9899.

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"If you don't yell at 'em, man, they don't get off," Alford continues. "They go, 'Huh?' 'Hey, can you move?' 'What?' And then they come closer to understand you."

"She was right there," Hillyer says. "It's not like you were yelling at her five feet away. I mean, she was right in Steve's face, and he's just yelling at her face, you know? And she's just standing there like she doesn't speak English."

"Did she?" Wynne asks.

"She spoke wino," Berg says, nailing the punch line.

Berg and the rest of the band will have to get comfortable speaking wino, because they don't seem to be taking a break from the road anytime soon. There's always a new record to promote, new songs to play, another gig somewhere. If they don't look like the kind of country band you expect, that's fine. And if they don't sound like it either, that's fine, too. As long as they sound like Eleven Hundred Springs, Hillyer and the band are happy.

"Guys like us, I don't think we're trying to sell it completely and totally traditional, like Dale Watson or the Derailers are," Hillyer says. "We love those guys, love to watch them. Our influences are certainly a lot more traditional than a lot of the other stuff that's going on. But, on the other hand, we're not really selling it that way. We're somewhere in between. It's hard to even entertain the idea of anything you do musically being original. It's all already done. But in general, I hope that we're doing our own thing. We just get up there and play the songs that we write, do it the way that we think it sounds good.

"It's never been the kind of thing where we go, 'Okay, this is kinda what we're going for. This is our deal. This is our niche. We're gonna dress up in suits, and we're gonna do this and that.' Or 'We're gonna be the new outlaws.' It's never like that. We just get up there, we do our thing and play our music, and that's it."

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