It was a night of mixed emotions as Romeo Dog Danny Gardner and Hollister Mike Barfield took the stage at Under The Volcano. Most people had heard the news about Hollister's former bandmate Eric Danheim's loss. There was almost no small group that the subject of Betsy Danheim's passing didn't come up. But Gardner and Barfield soldiered on in the best traditions of rock and roll.
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To say that after 15 years there wasn't some rust to be knocked off would be to stretch the truth. But the magic moments far outweighed the slightly awkward as these two Houston roots-rock stalwarts ripped through everything from the old LeRoi Brothers' standard "Never Write Your Name on a Jail House Wall" to a head-warping rendition of "Little Bitty Tears I Cried" and a version of the traditional blues song "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" that sounded like a lost Doors track, with Gardner deep in the reverb and accordionist Mark Halata somewhere in outer space. Who knew they had that in 'em?
Barfield offered fresh takes on several Hollisters' tunes like "Good for the Highway," "East Texas Pines," and a rip through Dave Alvin's "Marie Marie." But perhaps the most magical musical moment of the evening was an out-of-control version of Elvis Costello's "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down" that had half the audience singing along at the top of their lungs.
No word on whether these old warriors are going to continue these semi-Rounders reunion gigs. Chances are that, given the size and reaction of this large Wednesday night crowd, we will hear more of Gardner and Barfield.