Down in the ground, where they film the popular show Bluegrass Underground I recently ventured out to Pelham Tennessee to see these two play this venue for the very first time ever. I have always wanted to get down to this venue to see music, and I have just never had the time or the means to get down there. I’ll be making some new articles about this venue in the next few weeks for the upcoming season of the show.
Before I elaborate on the bands, and what was played, I wanted to talk about the ambiance and initial vibe of this place. They take you on a bus trip down this steep hill deep in the woods. You check into the bag check area and then you get to walk down into the cave area, where the merchandise and beer is sold.
The acoustics and the sounds down here are second to none. I mean, folks it is truly something you need to experience for yourself one Time. This place is deep deep in the middle of nowhere and very secluded for such a popular concert hall. They have it a nice cool 60 degrees and when I went it was hot and muggy all day, you can feel the difference in temperature as you defend into the main area.
This is one of the most vivid and surreal experiences you’ll ever see next to Red Rocks, because it is outdoor and indoor both at one time. The only complaint I have was the talking, during the first half of the opening act there were many that just wouldn’t shut up the damn talking so we could hear. In fact, the first act declared during the first song I recognized that it was a song for veterans and to please be more quiet. I realize that no matter what people are NOT going SHUT IT during concerts, the only thing is….YOU’RE IN A CAVE AND IT IS LOUD.
Tennessee Jet was first tonight, and he played some new songs with just his acoustic guitar and a steel player for the first half of his set. accompanied by the overall vibe of the caverns this portion of his set was my favorite. The ONLY drawback was my previously mentioned complaint…that damn talking. It was ridiculous and shameful the way many of these groups of people acted like they were in a restaurant or place where conversation is to be expected.
At the juncture where he played his newly released single called “Never Forget” which addresses veterans and their PTSD and other conditions, he stated out loud that if there was ANY SONG he played where he could have total silence it needed to be this one.
And justifiably so, because this song is very important especially as I write this article on 9-11. When he announces new plans for future recordings you can damn sure bet I’ll be around to report on them. He has a very unique ability to deracinate his sound form so many other influences and genres, that he has culminated his own style that defies all other genres.
He played the song “Lifers” that he wrote with Mr. Cody Jinks, and was on his latest album, however in the VERY near future Mr. Cody Jinks will be relasing TWO NEW ALBUMS before the year is over with. Before he switched over to his electric guitar and one arm drum technique that he does, this was his last more country sounding song.
He reverted back to his more familiar sound to me with songs like “What Kind Of Man” and “Hwy 51 Blues”. In these few years I have been watching his local shows around the nation, I have truly witnessed a lot of growth in his stage presence overall, and after playing “Dead Belles And Bones” he unleashed a powerful version of “I Saw The Light”.
The Steel Woods are one of the FEW bands I like with only two albums out that can pull off covers on them. Both of their albums are chocked full of covers indeed, but they have gathered a HUGE gathering, and played the Opry a few times. They PACKED the Caverns tonight, and when Mr. Jay sounded off on the kick drum it resonated off the walls like thunder.
I’m not even sure if i need to introduce these gentlemen on any future articles, most of you know who they are and trust me Mr. Rowdy Cope and company brought it tonight under the ground, and I’m SURE they will asked to return one day soon. They opened with a rousing roar from the audience as they came out to their background music and went into “The Rock That Says My Name”, a great song about a grave digger.
“Wild And Blue” was next followed by “All Of These Years”, which sounded GREAT down here, the thumping bass and pounding guitar riffs just ripped down the walls. The water gets melted and drips down onto your head no matter where you stand in this cave, and YES there ARE bats. One suggestion is to wear rubber muck boots because the floor gets muddy later in the evening.
“Without You” and “Blind Lover” were next followed by a selection called “I’m Gonna Love You” from the debut album called Straw In The Wind. One of my personal favorites was “Uncle Lloyd” which was about a family friend that had a family issue because of his drinking. In the song he loses his wife to a divorce and deals with it by the bottle, and told through the eyes of a child. it is truly a poignant and dark song of loss, and lonesomeness.
“Whatever It Means To You” was followed by their rousing cover of “Are The Good Times Really Over” by the great Mr. Merle Haggard, from the 1981 Big City album. “Better In The Fall” was next and then they played their LONG version of “Whipping Post” as usual full of flaming guitar licks.
“Old News” contains one of the most powerful lines in a song I have heard all year ” Here’s to miss liberty, and the crack in her bell. There’s a tear in her eye, but her arm hasn’t fell.”. That line moves me greatly, also “Jezebel” was included in this set. “Hole In The Sky” and title track from their debut album called “Straw In The Wind” was there.
Typically, they have played one encore all the many times I have seen them, tonight they played TWO. They were “Axe” and finally “Let The Rain Come Down”. This small band that started out as a jam band opening for people like Mr. Whitey Morgan and his ilk has grown a HUGE following and STILL has not even come CLOSE to their potential apogee of popularity…with little to NO radio airplay. You know I’m in the process of writing an Opry article about how all of these acts with NO airplay are selling out shows and KILLING SALES for nationwide venues…MORE TO COME FOLKS!
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