On Friday night I was supposed to be long gone from Dallas, TX. But plans changed as they sometimes do, and I was able to cash in the consolation prize of watching two overlords of old school country cross paths at one of the best venues in the country in what turned out to be one for the ages.
You always know what you’re going to get at a Wayne “The Train” Hancock show. After seeing him a few times, you understand there’s no bad nights. As they say “The Train” rolls on. The only questions are who will comprise his band and what songs he’ll play. I’ve seen Wayne a few times over the years, and there was a fire in him Friday night my friends. I don’t know if to blame the big appreciative crowd, or maybe the grandeur of the Granada, or maybe it was because this was the first night in a while where all three members of his band were present, but Wayne was feeling it.
Wayne doesn’t have “sets.” He takes the stage and plays until most musician’s fingers would bleed. His song selection was sharp. Some nights I might prefer if he played more obscure tunes I’d never seen live before. But this was a rare night, and sensing this and the mood of the crowd, the songs were like a greatest hits parade.
Anybody concerned about the recent turnover in his band should put those worries to bed. Shane Keil on bass and Matt Thomas on lead guitar were in no way a downgrade or a departure, though I do hope to see the standup steel position reappear soon.
One of the reasons that The Granada is the best music venue in the Universe is because knowing drunk fans are going to take dumb photos on their superphones, they save you a hassle and take pictures and make videos of every show.
Wayne Hancock Photos
Now let’s talk about Lucky Tubb & The Modern Day Troubadours who opened the show. When I saw them in March, I was complimentary, but quick to point out how loose and unrehearsed the band appeared. Friday night was their last show of a 34-day tour, and “tight” doesn’t begin to describe the synergy and slickness of their show. I’m telling you, Lucky Tubb and the Troubadours have found their groove, and it’s Katy bar the door time. I, The Triggerman am declaring on July 12, 2010, Lucky Tubb has arrived, and bands that have been around for years better keep one eye over their shoulders on whose gaining on their ass.
I could see how some would look at Lucky’s bit and accuse it of being “hokey,” like a museum piece or a reenactment. I can hear the mainstream crowd accusing it of being “old” and “obscure.” But this is where Lucky comes in, and makes this so much more than just a neo-traditional gimmick.
The guy has a look to him. I don’t know if it’s the widows peak or the dark eyebrows, or the way his cowboy hat wears him. Or maybe it has nothing to do with his appearance, but more the knowledge of his past, and his wild man, loose cannon reputation that you can sense even if you’ve never heard the stories. Lucky Tubb has that “something” that stars are made of, which can’t be faked or equalized no matter how high the measure of talent.
Furthermore his singing style is a gift that transcends any famous names. His rounding of words, and his dizzying doubling of syllables and crazy cadence is mesmerizing. It is his original talent.
Lucky added some new elements to the show, including finishing the set with his own song, “Damn The Luck,” instead of one from great uncle Earnest. The band also played a few songs before he came on stage, and they played him off stage old school style at the end of the set. Some might think he’s showboating, but the effect was quite the contrary. Lucky is the star; it’s his name out front and he looks the part, so he should play the part too. But playing the “star” actually allows the Troubadours to step out for a few songs before Lucky comes to steal the show. The Modern Day Troubadours are one hell of a band. They’re sneaky good. Casey the Barber works as the thumping heart as any good bass player should, and Natalie Page is the perfect Robin to Lucky’s Batman.
Lucky Tubb and the Modern Day Troubadours are going to have many many miles, and many mediocre shows ahead of them if they are going to meet their full calling. Lucky also has to do everything he can to keep the Troubadours in tact. It’s a big, scary world out there for bands who want to do it their way and keep the music pure and true to its roots, but what I saw in their eyes Friday night is that something had clicked. It’s no longer an idea sputtering to get started, its a machine rolling down the road. Patience is going to be important, but I have no doubt that with a little time and hard work, a bet on Lucky will pay off in spades.