I've been feeling unsafe when I venture out at night lately and I'm chalking it up to the recent presence of Crunkcore and Christian metal in Portland. While scouring the internet for a good place to purchase personal defense weapons, I came across something infinitely more exciting than a Panther Stun Gun: Hayes Carll's two night stand at the Aladdin Theater on January 19th and 20th! Hooray! Let him lead us back to the shelter of our rowdy Americana roots.
Hayes Carll sort of sounds like electric Bob Dylan meets Garth Brooks, but more Texas. Ok, way more Texas. He's probably (almost) as obnoxious as Garth Brooks, drawling words out much longer than they need to be drawled. And like a young Dylan his music illustrates life as poetry in the starkest sense. The song "I Got a Gig" contains a stunning stanza about life in bars: "Four tin walls now there ain't much left/Lookin' like a homeless Cheers on Meth/Homer's in the corner, breaking up a fight/Lord, I hope I get paid tonight." I suddenly feel like I haven't slept for days and just ate a whole basket of bar snacks.
Unfortunately, Steve Earle is headlining the show. A Steve Earle show really shouldn't be unfortunate, but last summer, at the Newport Folk Festival, I watched him play several country songs over a canned hiphop drum beat. It was enough to drive someone to the next stage (where Damien Marley was rapping). Luckily, his son Justin Townes Earle (who will be making an appearance at the Doug Fir on Valentine's Day) has polished the tarnished Earle namesake and made two incredible records, and one incredible EP, in the past couple of years. Here's to hoping that big daddy Earle forgets the drum machine on this tour.
In the song below, listen to the tact with which Carll interprets religion.
Hayes Carll - "She Left Me For Jesus"
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!