New York Music Daily

Global Music With a New York Edge

Tag: bodeans

Heartland Rock Legend Sam Llanas Goes Deeper into the Country

It wouldn’t be fair to let the year go by without giving a spin to perennially estimable tunesmith Sam Llanas’ 2018 album Return of the Goya Pt. 1, streaming at Spotify. The title refers not to a painting or a can of frijoles but the acoustic guitar that Llanas wrote many of his former band the BoDeans’ biggest hits on. It was stolen decades ago. Recently, a fan found out about it and bought him a new one. The unexpected acquisition jumpstarted what would become Llanas’ most country-flavored record so far.

The opening number, Follow Your Heart is a lighthearted shuffle with Tex-Mex hints and bursts of pedal steel from Sean Williamson (who also produced the album). Matt Turner handles bass; throughout the record, Kevin Dunphy and Ryan Schiedermayer take turns behind the drumkit.

The band keep the good vibes shuffling along with Recipe. All Day, a droll band-in-the van scenario, is one of the album’s catchiest tunes and is the first Llanas recording to feature brass (in this case John Simons’ trombone). Heroes, which alludes to the Bowie classic, is one of the album’s more muted songs, but Llanas’ portrait of the Women’s March on Washington packs a punch.

The blithe doot-doot-doots in Little Song contrast with its thoughtful narrative about a hometown pal who ended in the war in Afghanistan. They follow that with Little Song II, a wry mashup of Jimmie Rodgers and Johnny Cash. All Alone Again has the gravitas of a forlorn Merle Haggard honkytonk ballad, while Rio on the Run, an older song, finds new life with a much more upbeat arrangement, a soulful shout-out to a hardworking lifer out on the rock & roll highway.

Long Way Home, with its half-whispered vocals, is one of those late-night road narratives Llanas writes so well: it’s the hardest rocking track here. Down the Line is a brooding, soul-searching, mutedly syncopated ballad from a guy who admittedly “Likes to drink – and I’m kind of a stoner.” The final track is Big Ol Moon, a tellingly poetic reminder that trauma hits everybody the same way, whether uptown or downtown. Llanas’ 2014 album The Whole Night Thru, with its fiery noir ambience, remains the high point of his post-BoDeans solo work, and his 1999 album A Good Day to Die, with Absinthe, may well be the highlight of a hall-of-fame career. This one is calmer, Llanas’ voice is a bit more flinty, but when it comes to matching lyrics to catchy melodies, he’s undiminished.

Haunting, Brilliantly Lyrical Noir Americana from Ben De La Cour

Crooner Ben De La Cour brings to mind Townes Van Zandt, and also a young Ward White. De La Cour shares a similarly cynical worldview and world-weary, rakish persona, and sings in an assured baritone that he would probably prefer was fueled by quality bourbon, although rotgut might do the job in a pinch. And as he makes clear from the git-go, he’s no stranger to being in a pinch. He tells a good yarn, is a hell of a lyricist and has a thing for windmills. Vocally, Nick Cave is the obvious comparison, but De La Cour doesn’t rip him off wholesale: where Cave looks to Ireland for inspiration, De La Cour goes to the dark side of Nashville – his adopted hometown – or the Mississippi gulf. His brilliant new album Midnight in Havana is streaming at his music page,

The opening track is Mobile Bay, awash in a lush bed of acoustic and electric guitars, with accordion and Meredith Krygowski’s violin adding subtle cajun tinges. De La Cour keeps his imagery close to his vest in this one: do those bells across the water imply that the doomed narrator’s ex is marrying some other guy, that there’s a hurricane on the way, or both?

The band builds from bassist Jimmy Sullivan and drummer Erin Nelson’s steady Nashville gothic shuffle to an afterdark Tex-Mex rock blaze – the BoDeans circa 1993, feeding the fire – with Evelyn:

Pain lay deep in every track as we crossed over the border
But only one of us came back and I was so much older
And if I had it all again I’d probably make a couple changes to the end, Evelyn

Anybody Like You puts a bluegrass spin on the opening tune, with a disarmingly charming Freewheeling-era Dylan lyrical feel. Hold On takes a hard turn into grimly surreal fire-and-brimstone blues: “It makes me sick to think of Charley Patton in his grave, if he rose up they’d put him right back down in there again,” De La Cour rails. Walkin Around with the Blues is a less successful detour into Allman Brothers redneck rock.

The Last Last Dance nicks a familiar REM riff for a booze-drenched, doomed hookup scenario: “They say pick your poison, for all I know you do,” De La Cour’s narrator explaining that “At the emotional soup kitchen, I’m down at the front of the line.”

With its snarling guitars from lead player Ryan Dishen, Ain’t Going Down That Road brings to mind the Bottle Rockets in a particularly dark moment:

I heard Mr. Williams say we’re all just sitting around a hole in the ground
Shutterbugs are just far-out weird while the rest are just hanging around…
Some folks gotta feel the heat before they ever see the light
But I ain’t going down that road tonight

Brandywine Bouquet shifts into slowly swaying Blonde on Blonde territory, while Windmills and Trees offers both droll environmentalist relevance as well as a little insight into everybody’s favorite power source. But De La Cour can’t resist bringing back the gloom with the viscerally uneasy Down to the Water’s Edge:

I can see that light in your eyes, is it love or is it fear
If I could tell one from the other maybe neither one of us would be here

The album closes with the offhandedly ominous title track, an allusive tale that sounds a lot more like Matt Keating – or a Russell Banks short story – than anything Cuban. Time after time, De La Cour takes a theme that others would only scratch the surface of, and plunges to its murkiest, terminally depressed depths. Get to know this guy – he has a ceiling as high as both Van Zandt and White, and will hopefully last a lot longer than the former.

Texas Art-Rock Jamband and Neil Young Collaborators Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real in Williamsburg Tonight

If the idea of blowing off work or school today to wait for hours in the suddenly scorching sun for this evening’s free MOMA Summergarden event – where the new Neil Young album is being premiered over the PA at 6 out behind the museum – doesn’t appeal to you, there’s a relatively inexpensive alternative tonight at Brooklyn Bowl where Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, who back Young on the record, are playing their own stuff at around 9. Cover is a reasonable $15. That a band that packs stadiums coast to coast hasn’t sold out this comparatively smaller venue testifies to something really troubling as far as live music in New York is concerned.

The group’s latest album Something Real is streaming at Spotify. The opening track, Surprise, is exactly that, kicking off with a wry Pink Floyd quote and then hitting a bluesy metal sway over an altered version of the hook from Sabbath’s Paranoid .Then they make a doublespeed Blue Oyster Cult boogie of sorts out of it. The title track is a straight-up boogie: “I got tired of trying to please everybody…you’re just a name in a picture frame,” the bandleader rails, then bassist Corey McCormick, percussionist Tato Melgar and drummer Anthony LoGerfo take it down for a searing, blues-infused solo. These guys don’t coast on their bloodlines: Lukas and Micah Nelson play like they really listened to their dad…at his loudest.

Set Me Down on a Cloud has a pretty straight-up, growling Neil-style country-rock sway. Don’t Want to Fly has a similar groove, a dark stoner blues gem that David Gilmour would probably love to have written. Ugly Color is an unlikely successful, epic mashup of Santana slink, Another Brick in the Wall art-pop and BoDeans highway rock. Speaking of the BoDeans, the ballad Georgia is a tensely low-key ringer for something from that band circa 1995.

This brother outfit goes back to boogie blues with the strutting I’ll Make Love to You Any Ol’ Time. Then they blast through Everything Is Fake in a swirling hailstorm of tremolo-picking. The album winds up with an amped-up cover of Scott McKenzie’s famous 1967 janglepop hit San Francisco, Neil Young cameo included. It’s sad how so few children of noteworthy rock musicians have lived up to their parents’ greatness – on the other hand, it’s heartwarming to see these guys join the ranks of Amy Allison (daughter of Mose), the Wallflowers’ Jakob Dylan and Sean Lennon. And these guys rock a lot harder than all of them.

Gill Landry Makes a Night Out Among the Tourists Actually Worthwhile

When’s the last time a song absolutely ripped your face off? Gill Landry‘s Waiting for Your Love will do that to you. It’s a kiss-off anthem, but it’s also a requiem for a relationship gone irreparably wrong. Via a travelogue worthy of Kerouac, the Old Crow Medicine Show guitarist recounts a long downward spiral, with an ending that will give you chills. Not to spoil anything, but this time around, only death brings closure.

The rest of Landry’s solo album – streaming at Spotify – isn’t quite up to that level of haunting, but it’s excellent all the same. He’ll be playing plenty of this material tonight, May 7 at 7 PM at the big room at the Rockwood. Cover is $15; if the idea of spending a Saturday night dodging crowds of beer pong types seems dubious, consider that Landry’s solo stuff is more likely to draw a listening crowd rather than those people That’s not to say that Old Crow play beer pong music, just that some of those types gravitate to it. As a bonus, Landry is followd eventually at around 11 by the mighty gospel-rock orchestra Jesus on the Mainline, co-fronted by one of the most spectacular voices in town, Mel Flannery.

Over a matter-of-fact inteweave of acoustic flatpicking, the chilling Funeral In My Heart sets up the rest of Landry’s album:

Regret is by your coffin, can’t do anything but cry
The bloodless face of Used to Be is looking cold and grim
As the pallbearers of My True Love sing a silent hymn

Just Like You, like the rest of the songs here, is a gorgeously jangling, bittersweet update on a well-traveled sound, the angst-fueled highway rock of 80s and 90s bands like the BoDeans. Landry’s resonant baritone brings to mind that band’s former frontman Sam Llanas, sonically as well as thematically: Llanas mines a lot of the same existential angst as Landry does here.

The stately waltz Emily mashes up Tex-Mex, indie nebulosity and mid-70s Willie Nelson:

Flashing in foreign tongues to now-dead melodies
I tried to exalt you as you crucified me

Laura Marling adds her elegant voice to the duet Take This Body over a low-key acoustic countrypolitan backdrop. Odessa Jorgensen‘s uneasily soaring fiddle lines spice up the dark border-rock-shuffle Fennario. Over a bed of burning electric guitars, Lost Love evokes the blue-flame intensity of the mid-90s BoDeans, circa Joe Dirt Car, than anything else here. And while the organ-infused soul ballad Lately Right Now – as in, “Lately I need you right now” – at first sounds like an oxymoron, consider how many different directions, wry and otherwise, that phrase could go in.

Landry keeps the organ up in the mix through the ominously swaying, regret-laden Long Road. The final cut is the haunted outlaw country waltz Bad Love: “Hard looks and cold words, they kill by degrees,” Landry intones biterly, a sobering look at how quickly something good can decay, bringing this hard-hitting, emotionally raw collection of songs full circle with a real wallop.

Former BoDeans Frontman Sam Llanas Returns with a Vengeance to Fiery Electric Rock

There’s no small irony in the fact that when the BoDeans broke up in the mid-zeros, guitarist Kurt Neumann brought in four new members to replace co-founder Sam Llanas. While Neumann continued touring the band with more of an emphasis on cajun and C&W sounds, Llanas concentrated on brooding, mostly acoustic songwriting. But now Llanas is back with a vengeance, with the best BoDeans album since the 90s…except that it’s not a BoDeans record, it’s a Llanas solo album. On the brand-new The Whole Night Thru –  streaming at Spotify – he’s assembled a smoldering electric band: Sean Williamson on guitar, Matt Turner on bass and Ryan Schiedermayer on drums, with Gary Tanin on keys. The result is the best studio project anybody associated with the BoDeans has probably done since before the band’s iconic double live album, Joe Dirt Car back in 1995.

And it’s got everything that made the group a stadium rock favorite across the country for so long; big singalong anthems, volcanic guitar sonics and the same burning, impassioned vocals that made songs like Feed the Fire and Still the Night such audience favorites. This is definitely one for the diehards, and ought to draw in a new generation of fans who missed Llanas in his previous incarnation.

The opening track, Deja Vu, like many of the songs here, opens with suspenseful atmospherics and builds to a classic, anthemic Llanas chorus. It’s a lurid song: Llanas references Edgar Allen Poe and might or might not be addressing the breakup of his old band with the line about the “vultures waiting for your body to fall.” Williamson adds an all-too-brief solo, playing searing lines against a single resonating string.

The swaying, catchy, shuffling Cold n’ Clean will be familiar to those who’ve followed Llanas’ solo performances: with its wishing well imagery, it manages to be sardonic and poignant at the same time. Everywhere But Here brings back the noir of the opening track, addressing a mystery New York girl against an ominous, 80s-tinged gothic rock backdrop: “I’ve been chasing your ghost around Miltown,” Llanas laments, “You’re everywhere but here.” Again, Williamson’s guitar takes the intensity to redline.

With its layers of guitars and shifting vocals, Dangerous Love ponders what kind of price a femme fatale’s going to extract. By contrast, I’m Still Alive paints a somber portrait of a hurricane survivor facing hard times, alone and alienated. Then the band picks it up with Somethin’ Comin’ as the song rises from a simmering intro to roaring, slide guitar-fueled anthem: it’s one of the loudest numbers Llanas has ever recorded, and he makes it worth the effort.

Addicted to the Cure returns to Llanas’ familiar theme of whether or not to resist the advances of a woman who’s obviously got an agenda. The Best I Can gives the chance to work Llanas’ signature catchy chord changes dynamically, back and forth against a roaring blend of distorted guitar textures. The elegant, regret-laden final cut, To Where You Go paints an achingly vivid picture of the solitude of a cross-country night drive. It’s everything a fan of Llanas’ old band could possibly want. Four-on-the-floor rock records don’t get any more satisfying than this.

Fred Gillen Jr. Makes Yet Another Good Record

It’s hard to believe that Fred Gillen Jr. has been making albums for almost 20 years now. His latest, Silence of the Night is one of his best, and arguably his most tuneful, a mix of acerbically lyrical, Americana-flavored janglerock and grittier electric songs that stand up alongside Steve Earle’s louder stuff. In a style of music that’s all too often drenched in obviousness and cliche, Gillen doesn’t go there: he has a bloodhound’s nose for a catchy hook, he tells a good story and he’s never sung better than he does here. There isn’t a hint of fakeness, or affectation in his casual, intimate vocals, or for that matter in his songwriting either. Although there isn’t as much of an overtly political stance to these songs as in his past work – during the Bush regime, Gillen was one of the most insightfully enraged voices of reason around – his songs still have a penetrating social consciousness. As someone who long ago adopted Woody Guthrie’s “this guitar kills fascists” for his six-string, Gillen keeps a close eye on the world outside and its most telling details. All seventeen tracks on the album are streaming at his Bandcamp site.

The opening cut, Morphine Angel offers a somber elegy for an addict, “blinded by your own sun’s dying light” – it wouldn’t be out of place in the BoDeans catalog. Later on, he revisits that theme – it’s a familiar one in his repertoire – with a more broad appraisal of the price of addiction in a dead-end town. The album’s surprisingly bouncy title cut looks at love as “a dockside shanty, lit by Christmas lights, painted like a carnival against the endless silence of the night.” Gillen follows that with Vanity and its casual country-rock sway, a vivid cautionary tale (and good advice) for these Orwellian times.

Find a Rodeo, a country ballad, laments the loss of good songs on the radio, among other things. One of the album’s strongest tracks, the Springsteen-ish Halloween Day at the VA leaves a chilling trail of images, a litany of damage and lost hope, among them the Afghan war vet who returns home too messed up to restart his old Kiss cover band. The growling, bluesy, metaphorically-charged Black Butterflies goes back to roaring Americana rock, something akin to Will Scott relocated to the Hudson Valley.

Shotgun contrasts a catchy janglerock tune with a brooding lyric that examines the consequences of getting married too soon, followed by the powerful Walking That Line, an abortion chronicle that makes a worthy sequel to Graham Parker’s You Can’t Be Too Strong. Only Sky ponders how possible it is to make a genuine escape, followed by the nonchalant come-on ballad Lean on Me.

A couple of tracks veer toward the sentimental, but they’re not throwaways. This Old Car, complete with fuzzy dice and air freshener, makes an apt flipside to Everclear’s Thousand Dollar Car. Sappy as the lyrics are, This Town Is Our Song has an irresistibly tasty acoustic guitar hook. There’s also Dinosaur Bones, a creepy, apocalyptic voice-and-drums number as well as a tantalizingly brief, bristling twangrock instrumental and an attempt to end the album on a lighthearted note. It’s another solid chapter in the career of a songwriter who’s not unknown – his recent collaborations with Pete Seeger have received well-deserved praise – but whose work would enrich the lives of a wider audience than it probably has. Fans of John Prine, Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt and the rest of the Americana songwriting pantheon ought to get to know him.

An Intimate Tour of NYC with Sam Llanas

Sam Llanas has been in town the past week, supplying the music for playwright Doug Vincent’s harrowing, suicide-themed performance piece, A Day For Grace. In between those gigs, Llanas has been playing a series of intimate club dates. He’s at Iridium on Monday the 17th at 8 PM, singing classics with Les Paul’s trio plus veteran jazz guitar stars Bucky Pizzarelli and Gene Bertoncini. For those who always thought Llanas had the chops to go further than the Americana rock he made a name for himself in, this should be a revealing and rewarding evening.

It’s interesting how the co-founder of Waukesha, Wisconsin’s legendary roots rockers the BoDeans has done some of his most memorable work outside that band. His 1998 Absinthe project, with original BoDeans drummer Guy Hoffman and the Shivvers’ Jim Eanelli, among others, ranks as one of the most powerful dark rock records ever made. Many of those songs appear in abbreviated versions in A Day for Grace, so it’s no surprise that he left that material out of shows this past Tuesday at Zirzamin and Wednesday at Rockwood Music Hall. Playing acoustic guitar and backed by the terse beats of Ryan Schiedermayer on cajon (and the Dog Show’s Jerome O’Brien guesting on bass at Zirzamin), Llanas took his time with a diverse mix of new and rare solo material as well as a handful of BoDeans crowd-pleasers. And even those he reinvented. Zirzamin was the fun set, with the singalong Still the Night done as a swaying, hypnotic nocturne in the style of the tracks on Llanas’ deliciously atmospheric solo album, 4 AM. At the end of the set, Llanas launched into All Along the Watchtower, and then a medley of songs using that same three-chord progression that began with Don’t Fear the Reaper and then went further and further into cheese, with the Violent Femmes and then Tom Petty and at that point everyone including the band was cracking up. In between there was a lot of new or unreleased material: a wickedly catchy reggae tune straight out of late-period Bob Marley; a suspensefully bouncy singalong about a vet returned from Afghanistan; the haunting, elegaic To Where You Go; and the title track from the solo album, about the kind of headspace that’s “surely beautiful, but ice is cold.”

The Rockwood show was more intense, Llanas’ baritone imploring and brooding and occasionally evoking the sly, rakish persona that fueled much of the BoDeans’ more upbeat catalog. He moved through the shadows with the morose All the Blues (from his next-to-last release with the BoDeans, Mr. Sad Clown), then the practically breathless desperation of Down at the Wishing Well and then the rich noir ambience of Shyne, one of the standout tracks on the solo album. After a wryly casual take of the big BoDeans concert hit Something’s Telling Me, he went back to the dark stuff for Dangerous Love, a swaying, bolero-tinged anthem, picked up the pace with the big radio hit Closer to Free and then took it down again for an audience request, 617 (from the 2004 album Resolution), a chilling portrait of alienation and isolation. “They say that time will heal everything – I don’t know if that’s true, down on Third Avenue,” Llanas crooned ominously. He and Schiedermayer wrapped up the set with a particularly intense, vengeful take of the solo album’s catchiest track, Cherry-O, kept the aching intensity going with 4 AM and Two Souls, ending with fiery singalongs of Feed the Fire and Still the Night. With just an acoustic guitar and a simple beat, Llanas brought the energy up to stadium level and made it look easy.

Brooding Nocturnal Ambience from Sam Llanas

As the co-founder and frontman of legendary heartland rockers the BoDeans, Sam Llanas built a deep catalog of singalong Americana rock anthems along with many darker, more pensive songs. Like any good songwriter, Llanas can evoke pretty much any emotion he wants. Yet even on his most upbeat upbeat hits with the band – She’s a Runaway, Still the Night, Feed the Fire, etc. – there was usually some undercurrent of unease. That came to the forefront in Absinthe, Llanas’ 1999 side project which released a single, riveting concept album, A Good Day to Die, a haunting series of songs inspired by the suicide of his older brother. Llanas waited til late last year before releasing his first album under his own name, the aptly titled 4 AM: he’s playing songs from it tonight, Sept 11 at 10 at Zirzamin, tomorrow the 12th at 8 PM at the small room at the Rockwood and then Monday the 17th at 8 at Iridium.

“I poured a small bourbon and water, and toasted the Clash,” Llanas sang on Cold Winter’s Day, one of the BoDeans most evocative nocturnes. That same atmosphere pervades the solo record, right down to the inside cd booklet shot of Llanas reclining in murky half-light, glass in hand, revisiting the ghosts of the past. Where he really nails the atmosphere is less with the spare, mostly acoustic insrumentation than with the vocals: instead of going down into his raw, emotionally charged baritone, he goes way up to the top of his register for a breathy, sometimes raspy, soulful timbre. Who knew he had that kind of range! While he’s still writing in an Americana rock vein, this is his soul record: there are hints of 70s artists like William Bell in his casually imploring, emotionally-charged vocals. Llanas plays acoustic guitar, backed tersely and tastefully by band of mostly fellow Milwaukeeans including guitarist Terry Vittone, bassist Matt Turner, Bukka Allen of the BoDeans on accordion, percussionist Ryan Schiedermayer and the one-man string section of Gary Tanin.

Oh, Celia sets the tone, a laid-back yet insistent come-on fueled by Allen’s lilting accordion. Shyne, a backbeat-driven breathy noir 60s pop nocturne, sounds like R. Dean Taylor but with digital production: “I want to dance with the devil’s daughter under the city lights,” Llanas croons, completely deadpan. The title track lingers wistfully but purposefully for just a little over two minutes, lowlit by accordion and gently ringing lead guitar.

The coyly titled Nobody Luvs Me has Tex-Mex tinges while the bittersweet, brooding Fare Thee Well works a western swing vein, underscored by Llannas’ powerful, low-register harmonies. By contrast, Janey is the most stark, minimalist song here: “It’s been a hell of a wonderful fight,” Llanas remarks, out on a late-night walk, trying to cool off. He follows it with the album’s most vivid cut, The Only One, contemplating a crushingly solitary 4 AM “hour of truth” against Vittone’s biting but judicious lead lines.

The song that harks most closely to the BoDeans’ anthemic style is the cynical Cherry O – “I never meant to hurt you as bad as I did,” whispers the vengeful cheater as the catchy chorus subsides. That’s the one song here that really screams out for a loud rock version. Llanas goes back to an understatedly noir, Orbison-inspired vein for Oh How I Loved You, then follows with the suspensefully quiet, symbolically-charged The Way Home. There’s also a cover of Jules Shear’s All Through the Night. This album doesn’t hit you over the head, but it’s exactly what it’s supposed to be: a good late-night listen.

The BoDeans Reinvent Themselves at City Winery

It never hurts to reinvent yourself, especially if your band’s been around for practically thirty years, as is the case with heartland rock legends the BoDeans. In this particular instance, that became a necessity in the wake of the departure of longtime co-frontman Sam Llanas. Last night at City Winery, this new version of the BoDeans led by lead guitarist Kurt Neumann proved to be a potently tight, road-tested machine, methodically churning out a mix of old concert favorites along with new songs from their recent album American Made. That there are four additional band members in Llanas’ place – returning original keyboardist Michael Ramos, fiddler Warren Hood, second guitarist Jake Owen and percussionist/harmony singer Alex Marrerro – speaks volumes to his role in the band.

From the opening notes of the catchy yet enigmatic anthem Stay On, Neumann set the tone with his signature terse, echoing, sustained lead lines, providing an example that his new bandmates followed with a mix of rigor and inspiration. Yet as strong as the playing was, there was something missing. Neumann’s sardonic, often distant persona was always balanced by Llanas’ dark, earthy charisma and wry sense of humor, and those elements went lacking, most audibly when Neumann reached for the bottom of his vocal register as the show reached a high point with the big crowd-pleasers Fadeaway and Still the Night. Much as he tried, Neumann never loosened to the point where he could evoke the mix of longing and ectasy that Llanas so effortlessly conjured, especially in concert.

But Neumann remains a strong songwriter, in more of a rock/powerpop vein than the country-influenced Llanas. Choosing such a traditional, rootsy lineup to play Neumann’s big, often atmospheric anthems turned out to be a strikingly original and effective move. The new songs were generally strong, notably the Johnny Cash-influenced Flyaway – which Neumann described as being “about finding liberation in incarceration” – and the new depression narrative America, a plea for solidarity that serves as the new album’s title track. The older material often benefited from this treatment as well. The fiddle in tandem with the accordion revisited the original rustic quality of older favorites like Dreams and Angels, and gave the sarcastic suburban narrative Paradise a welcome rawness. Other reinventions weren’t as successful. Trying to turn Llanas’ brooding Ballad of Jenny Rae into a straight-ahead anthem lost the haunting quality of the original, and reprising the Texas shuffle beat of Texas Ride Song several times throughout the show became tiresome quickly. And Idaho, the allusively alienated narrative that’s perhaps Neumann’s finest song, lacked both the crushing subtlety and tongue-in-cheek exuberance that Llanas would bring to it.

Yet this band succeeds on their own terms. As they wound up the set with a rustically tinged version of the 90s sitcom theme Closer to Free, the surprisingly young crowd responded with a boisterous enthusiasm seldom seen at shows by acts of this vintage. That Neumann, now fifty but not showing his age, would remain such a vital presence is something to be grateful for.

Another Side of the BoDeans at City Winery

For the first time in the legendary heartland rockers’ history, the BoDeans will be doing a New York show without their longtime baritone singer Sam Llanas. Which means that for fans of the eclectic, soaringly anthemic rock songs written by his bandmate Kurt Neumann – now the band’s lone frontman – the recently reconfigured version of the group will have plenty of surprises in addition to lots of old favorites at their show at City Winery tomorrow night, August 9. You should expect old classics like Idaho and Paradise along with plenty of new, vintage Americana-flavored material from the Neumann-led version of the band’s new album, American Made, featuring a return by the band’s original keyboardist, Michael Ramos along with bassist Ryan Bowman and brand-new fiddler Warren Hood.

The band plays at 9, and as of today there are still $25 tickets available: as with all shows at this sonically excellent space, it’s always worth a call ahead to City Winery at 212-608-0555.