Photos by Chris Gray
I wasn’t sure I particularly liked Corb Lund’s “Hayseed” look. A woman at the bar told me not to worry.
“The ladies like it fine.”
I guess everything is in the eye of the beholder.
Things are also in the ear of the be-hearer. I don’t know if it was because it was Tuesday or because they were a thousand miles from home with no end in sight, but Lund and his three-piece band the Hurtin' Albertans' performance lacked some of the string-ripping energy that so attracted me to the band when I saw them the first time at SXSW 2003.
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Part of the problem was a lack of volume, particularly lead guitar. Note to Lund's sound man: this is South Texas, not a Luby’s Cafeteria in Nebraska - crank it and wail. There’s no point having a guitarist of Grant Siemens’ ability if we aren’t going to hear him. Much of Siemens’ lap steel work was somewhat wasted due to lack of volume.
The crowd was peppered with Canadians, many Oilies who’ve come south to work, and they responded kindly to Lund’s ditties about ranches, horses, rifles, knives, prairies, rodeos, and whiskey. And Lund sold enough merchandise to buy enough Super Unleaded to drive his van to the North Pole if he wants.
Lund also played to the locals a bit with not one but two Hayes Carll covers, “Highway 87” and “Little Rock,” and gave both a good reading.
There was nothing wrong with the show, in fact for the most part is was spot-on, note-for-note perfect, but it was certainly a more sedate and subdued Corb Lund Band than I’ve ever seen. Maybe I just can’t simmer myself down for the supper-club show. - William Michael Smith