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Thursday, 09 June 2011 13:25

Concert review + setlist: Hayes Carll, Elizabeth Cook and Kentucky Knife Fight get Twangfest off to epic start at the Pageant, Wednesday, June 8

Concert review + setlist: Hayes Carll, Elizabeth Cook and Kentucky Knife Fight get Twangfest off to epic start at the Pageant, Wednesday, June 8 Kate McDaniel
Written by Scott Allen
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A few songs into his headlining set opening the first night of Twangfest 15, Texan Hayes Carll, fully understanding the effects of the recession, thanked the audience "for spending money to come out to see us."

He continued, "You could have bought a case of Pabst, rented some porn and stayed at home," a decision that would have been a disastrous mistake.

Carll with his talented four-piece backing band performed a moving show mixing a 23-song, nearly two-hour set of intimate, soulful country gems to boot-stomping country rock perfectly. Playing the majority of his latest album KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories), Carll had the crowd singing and dancing along with his wry lyrics and bluesy country sound.

A roaring version of the album's title track with its mix of Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues"-style lyrics and "Highway 61 Revisited" blues set the tone early that Twangfest was in for a great night. Further, Carll generously included a hilarious new song "One Bed, Two Girls, Three Bottles of Wine" which goes down as one of the best country titles ever -- and a great song to boot.

Before performing a solo version of "Another Like You" complete with an explanation of how he planned to sing the duet style lyrics by himself, Carll explained the divisive nature of American politics that gave rise to the song remarking, "Nothing can't be overcome with a little physical attraction and some alcohol."

Later, the country weeper "Willing to Love Again" fit perfectly with beautiful country soul of "Chances Are," while great picking from guitarist Scott Davis highlighted "The Loving Cup" in between. The driving country rock of "Little Rock" and sauntering of "Stomp and Holler," ended the main set on high note eliciting an eruption of applause from the crowd. The encore epitomized the show in two songs as Carll started with a gorgeous version of "Long Way Home" and ended with the stomping "Bad Liver and a Broken Heart."

Florida native, Elizabeth Cook marked her third Twangfest appearance squeezing 14 songs into her 45-minute performance backed by guitar and stand-up bass a la Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two. Getting her popular songs "El Camino" out early and leaving the witty "Sometimes It Takes Balls to Be a Woman" for the end, Cook's deep gigging experience allowed her to weave stories effortlessly between her soulful country songs. In a graceful move evocative of her style, Cook even handed the microphone to guitarist/songwriter Tim Carroll for a couple of numbers.

The storytelling between songs from this choice pairing of two genuine entertainers made the night move quickly as both drew from personal life experiences on and off the road. Cook also appreciated the support from the crowd calling out a birthday boy in the audience cracking that he "could have went to Chuck E Cheese, but came to Twangfest" instead. Referring to her popular "Apron Strings" radio show on Sirius XM, she gave thanks to stations like 88.1 KDHX reminding that, "not everyone has satellite radio."

Making the most of its 30-minute opening slot, Kentucky Knife Fight performed a solid set of seven of its original songs to the appreciative hometown crowd. The work ethic of rehearsals and constant gigs paid off for the St. Louis-based sextet as they sounded professional and tight. A darker, bluesy mix of mid-tempo songs brought greater depth to its raucous beginnings. The clock is ticking before this group is opening a tour for a national artist.

Hayes Carll setlist

The Letter
Trouble in Mind
Hard Out Here
Bye Bye Baby
One Bed, Two Girls, Three Bottles of Wine (new song)
Grand Parade
Good Friends
It's A Shame
Drunken Poet's Dream
Another Like You (solo)
Willing To Love Again
The Loving Cup
She Left Me For Jesus
I Don't Wanna Grow Up
Chances Are
Bottle In My Hand
Girl Downtown
Little Rock
Stomp and Holler

Long Way Home
Bad Liver and a Broken Heart

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