Gillian Welch and Neko Case at ACL Fest: The Return of the Redheads
Gillian Welch must have read our earlier post about Friday's redheads, Patty Griffin and Jenny Lewis. She and partner David Rawlings took the theme and ran with it in their cowboy boots. First there was "Red Clay Halo," from their touchstone album Time (The Revelator), and later there was "Knuckleball Catcher," a new song about Red Sox pitchers and the men behind the plate who've got only "one job to do."
Welch and Rawlings glided through an elegant folk catalog including "Orphan Girl," "Look At Miss Ohio" and "My First Lover," before which Welch went on about man's fetish with chicks with banjos. As if the spot-on dual harmony wasn't enough, Alison Krauss joined them for an a cappella version of "Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby," from the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Ben Bridwell, of Band of Horses, would later remark at his own band's set how awestruck he was by Gill and Rawlings's performance.
Neko Case, the weekend's fourth redheaded songstress of supreme talent, opened her set with a bunch of new ones no one seemed to know. She admitted going that route was a "scary" proposition, but still. The pedal steel hypnotized when the vocal delivery didn't. That gap was bridged, though, when Case got wise and served up "Margaret vs. Pauline," "Star Witness" and "Maybe Sparrow," from her sublime album Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. It was a red tide, indeed. -- Michael Hoinski