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Bowery Ballroom


After hearing and buying my first Freakwater album (End Time) at Other Music just a month ago - and running right back to the store to pick up the other four - I went to the Bowery Ballroom concert Sunday night thinking that this was undoubtedly one of the best bands around today. I left the concert knowing that Freakwater is undoubtedly one of the best bands - any genre - of all time.

I'll try to scale this for you. Thirty years ago, a record called Music From Big Pink melded profound lyrics and lonesome voices and jukebox echoes of "old, weird American music" in a way that nobody'd ever heard before. It was a complete context killer, but we also didn't know how they did it or even who they were, in my case at least till I saw The Band's coming out gig at the Fillmore East, and from the first chords of "To Kingdom Come" right through to the last encore it was revelation piled on revelation, watching and hearing the music from the record being fully realized, live, unaided, unhurried, by those five guys in the daguerreotype suits.

I've seen more than a few great concerts since then - everyone from Bill Monroe to X to Sylvie Courvoisier - but maybe nothing that quite recaptured the sheer delight of witnessing the live total realization of a perfectly sprung ensemble sound, until Sunday night starting with the first mystic chords of "Good For Nothing"...and right on through, straight and true, to the last encore.

And I'll just tell you all right here, country cello works for me.

Janet and Catherine (and Sally Timms earlier) commented several times about how quiet the audience was. Well, I don't know, maybe folks were savin it for going back to work Monday morning, maybe the bartenders were too heavy with the Tab, but me, I was just too awestruck hearing the new made old again to be making a whole lot of noise. Saw a lot of blissful faces all around, though.

What more can I say? You are the Queen Bees. Thanks for the nectar.

There's nothing so pure.