The Esquires at Radio Cafe, Nashville

Tues. February 8 2000 The Esquires at Radio Cafe
Crowd: 10-20 people, pretty dead

Dave Rawlings was in his suit, Gillian Welch was in jeans I think, and Dave Steele was in comfortable attire. The men drank cranberry juice and Gil drank coffee.

They rocked about 3/4 of the time, and sucked about the rest, but they were definitely worth seeing again. Dave sang "Raspberry Beret" by Prince in falsetto and it was really painful to listen to, but it was funny simultaneously.

They did the Pixies' "Wave of Mutilation". AWESOME!!!!!

Now, they did three Bob Dylan songs that I can remember: "Visions of Johanna." Very extended...drawn was a groove that kept going and you wish it could go on forever. Later they asked for someone to call out a number, quite mysteriously. In their set, they'll ask for a number and turn to that page number in "The Book of Bob", a Bob Dylan songbook. I called out "127!" because the audience was dead silent and I knew exactly what was coming, although I had no idea what 127 was going to be. It was "All I Really Want to Do". The last song they did...I didn't recognize, but on the 'net, it seems to have been a cover that Bob did by C.A. Hull: "I Forgot More than You'll Ever Know (about her)".

They did Blueberry Hill, which really sucked compared to Bruce Cockburn's version, but it was interesting that they did that, because Cockburn was in a band called the Esquires himself at one point in his early career, not that they mentioned that or anything. Talking was kept to a minimum.

A lot of the songs I didn't know, or if I did know, didn't know who did the song. They did "Roll Over Beethoven." They also did "Straight A's in Love" by I don't know who. It looks like it could have been Bob Dylan, but the lyrics don't really match up, as Dave Rawlings kept singing about "alge-brae"; maybe they changed the lyrics around a little bit. One of the best songs was "Nadine" by Chuck Berry; it sounded like they were saying "Stan-ley, honey is that you?" instad of "Nadine"...

All in all, it was a good show and they played for about two hours, starting only 5 minutes late and taking a set break that was less than 20 minutes.

Wed. February 9 2000
Crowd: 30-40 people, pretty wild over them

They were supposed to start at 10:30, but started at 11:15, because the band that played before them went on too long. David Rawlings wore the black jacket/shirt part of the suit he wore the night before, and instead of wearing the matching black pants, he had on jeans. And not just blue jeans, but holey jeans. This was really wild, since I've only seen David Rawlings wearing a suit before, and never jeans.

One of the first songs they played was "When I Paint My Masterpiece" written and covered by Bob Dylan; the Band also did this song.

Then they did "Powderfinger" by Neil Young which was also covered by the Cowboy Junkies, I'm told.

There was a bluegrassish song gone electric they played and I think it was called something like "Mountain Girls gone home". Never heard it before, but it was cool. They did the Pixies' "Wave of Mutilation", "Nadine", and "Straight A's in Love" again.

In the middle of the night, someone requested something metal like Metallica, I think. So David Rawlings handed David Steele the electric guitar and he played some metal tune. David Rawlings joked that David Steele should play something a little more soft like an AC/DC tune. I think they were going to try to play a song by them, but stopped, and Dave grabbed the guitar back from Dave.

This was the Bob Dylan night. They played "I Forgot More than You'll Ever Know" again, then later the Esquires asked for a page number from "the book" and then the audience was insatiable after that. They kept on shouting page numbers. They wouldn't play the first two page numbers, because the first number was a poem and the audience wanted Dave to read the poem, but he wouldn't. Then the next number was a song they apparently knew too well, so they played "You're Gonna Leave Me Lonesome." Other Bob songs included "Million Dollar Bash" which someone requested, and "Gonna Serve somebody" (which was supposed to be the last song, but they did "Raspberry Beret" upon request and Tom Waits' "Gun Street Girl" [which was a major jam song and it rocked]). And even that was supposed to be the last song, but they ended with "Roll Over Beethoven" fused together with "Move it on Up."

Very cool. Go see the Esquires when they come to your town. But if you're looking for groovy musicianship, it's cool to see them as "Gillian Welch & David Rawlings: the bluegrass/folk people."

-Allison McCulloch

Gillian Welch's website