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Blame the drummer! Excerpts from the 20th Anniversary of Angels Turned Thieves concert, 7/13/2020

Updated: Apr 4


Blame the drummer!  It was Mark Schreiber's idea to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of our debut record Angels Turned Thieves at a house concert last summer.  Since he came up with the idea, we did the show in his basement!  But I must take the blame for picking one of the hottest days of summer for the show.  To their credit, the Train Army, friends, and family (which are pretty much identical) crammed into Schreiber's man-cave/rehearsal space for the show and braved the heat.

I'm usually not one for looking back but I truly enjoyed revisiting Angels and getting to play a number of songs that John Train does not typically perform.  It was also wonderful to have Rosie McNamara-Jones along for the ride, especially since she sang and played violin on the original recordings.  The first set of the show was Angels and then in the second set we performed two songs from each of our other five albums.  Looking forward to Looks LIke Up's anniversary in 2021!


1. Wait Until Spring:  This is one of those songs that just doesn't work in a noisy bar.  A friend recently explained to me that I should be grateful to serve as background noise (a "soundtrack" he called it) when people gather at a Happy Hour and talk about what everyone else is talking about on Facebook etc.  He's undoubtedly right about that.  But I really did love having the opportunity to play this particular number in front of an audience that was actually listening.  It's a favorite of mihe in terms of my own songs.  The ring from the car is true.  Russell is a reference to Bertrand.  I was reading the Ray Monk bio of him at the time.


2. You and Yours:  The opening track of Angels.  I was trying to write something like Joe Henry's Trampoline with which You and Yours was paired in our No 2 Unalike Shows.  I've written about Joe Henry's enormous influence on me here.   When Angels was released we got a lot of great reviews including one in the Allentown Call.  Tho grateful, I was upset when the writer in that particular article said that You and Yours sounded like a great lost REM track.  REM?  Ugh.  My second least favorite band of all time.  Well, at least they didn't compare us to U2!!!!


3. Ask me to Stay:  We recorded this one in the gazebo out behind Long View studios in Roxborough where Angels was made.  Trying to capture our live sound, I presume.  The engineer and owner of that studio, Steven Wellner, was always very positive.  No matter how lame the take, he'd say "Sounds great, man!"  As a bit of a yes-man myself, I can relate.  I wrote this song after seeing the English Patient:  "These desert sands can cloud your dreams."


4. Underside:  I hear a little bit of Townes' Nothin' in here.  Both musically and, unfortunately, lyrically as well.  "It's a filthy film in a darkened room // It's a beautiful girl at the end of the night."  We've all got our issues, right?  I love Bill's mando fills on this one.


5. Relief:  Here's one from the Sugar Ditch that we played in the second half of the show.  Ok.  I'll give up the goods.  Take a listen to Faithful Shooter by Richard Buckner:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQOogy5eptU  Listen to the way, he intones the word "Faith" and then listen to the way I sing the word "Relief".  No 2 Unalike, indeed!


6. No Expectations:  Here's one from All of Your Stories, a bedroom tape that Slo-Mo and I recorded in 1995 at his parent's house using the then state of the art technology called DAT.  We intended the recordings as a resume of sorts to get us gigs but ended up really liking them and released 'em on cassette (remember those?) and then re-released them in 2010 on cd (remember those?) with a number of other early JT recordings.  Anyway, more than one person has come up to me after our gigs and told me that our version of No Expectations is better than the Stones' original.  That sounds quite insane to me but I do have to say that the interplay of Slo-Mo and Tucker's steel at the end of this live recording is something special.  These guys are ace musicians, know how to listen to one another, and, shit, what other band has two steel guitars????  The JTB sound, folks!

Thank you again Train Army!


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