Jesse Dayton & Friends Silence Old Quarter Cafe

Aftermath is so busy in the city, we don't get down to Wrecks Bell's Old Quarter Acoustic Café in Galveston enough. But we caught a free ride down Saturday and rectified that situation. And what a unique show we were privy to, with Jesse Dayton playing with two of his favorite writers, Brennen Leigh and Mike Stinson.

Dayton, who has been working 14-hour days directing his first film, Zombex, was a bit under the weather, but he soldiered on like the pro he is and gave a solid two-hour performance. He had actually planned to record the show a his next release, the follow up to his One For The Dance Halls. But he (probably wisely) scrapped that plan due to his hectic schedule and instead did a run-through of what will probably eventually become his next CD.

Working with his acoustic guitar and bass player Rick Watson, Dayton opened the set with a searing version of longtime favorite "She's Kissin' Abilene Goodbye." By the second verse, as club owner and former Townes van Zandt compadre Bell twiddled with the sound, Dayton and Watson had it squeaky tight. With his schedule so crowded these days, we wondered how Dayton, who had a different bassist the last time we saw him, finds time to rehearse his acoustic show and dial it in so well.

As Bell continued to tweak the sound, Dayton quipped, "Welcome to the Beaumont sound check. That's when you do the check after the sellout crowd is seated."

Dayton broke hard into his Joe Strummer homage, "Camden Town" and had the crowd 100 percent. This was no Houston audience; these people were totally quiet, totally into what's happening onstage. Bell made a couple more tweaks when the song ended.

"OK, I think the Beaumont sound check is officially over," Dayton quipped.

"Jesse, don't make fun of me, I love you," Bell replied.

"Actually I'm making fun of me, Wrecks," said Dayton to howls.

And then Dayton got serious, rendering a George Jones-ish take on Nick Lowe's loser's masterpiece, "Lately I've Let Things Slide," and followed with "a song I wrote about Liberty, Texas," "River Done Rose Clear Outta the Banks." It was a nasty, South Texas blues that said to all in hearing range that Dayton is not just a honky-tonker.

He followed with "I'm Home Getting Hammered While She's Out Getting Nailed," "the dumbest song I ever wrote, which of course made me the most mailbox money. As a songwriter, it makes you wonder what your priorities are supposed to be."

The audience turned the song into a singalong.

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William Michael Smith