Lowlands and Friends
Play Townes Van Zandt’s Last Set.
A Wonderful Homage To A Legendary Evening.
Townes Van Zandt didn’t really find fame, nor certainly fortune during his lifetime; but his influence and shadow can be heard and felt in a lot of what we now call Americana Music.
He played his last ever set at The Borderline in London on Tuesday 3rd December 1996; and as was common at the time only hardcore fans were there to witness a shambling set, with the singer the worse for ‘a life well lived.’
Twenty years later Songwriter, producer and leader of Lowlands Edward Abbiati has lovingly recreated the complete set-list in chronological order with the help of numerous friends from today’s wacky world of Roots music, in bars, garages, bedrooms and wherever across the globe.
Each song is introduced in the style of a radio presenter by narrator Barry Marshall-Everett who was there that night.
First song, Lightning Hopkins’ My Starter Won’t Start is a low down dirty Country Blues, featuring Shinyribs/Gourds frontman the inimitable Kevin Russell alongside the Gnola Blues Band; and boy does it inhabit the soul of not just the song; but Townes himself.
There are Townes’ songs here that I’d forgot about; and some I plain didn’t know and the way some of bands and singers explore the depths of his words are at times overwhelming.
Dollar Bill Blues I did recognise; but Italian Rock band Cheap Wine turn the volume up and create a dirty Grunge meets Alt. Country rocker of the highest quality.
Just like that track there are surprises, and always pleasant surprises around every corner…..with new names to me like Will T Massey and Australian Tim Rogers reinventing Marie and A Song For respectively.
Then there are RMHQ favourites Sid Griffin and Rod Picott to talk about; with Sid, Michele Gazrich and a band we’d nearly forgot about, The Lucky Strikes combining to bring an extra spark to Pancho & Lefty; making it sound not unlike The Band; although Michele Gazich’s ‘fiddle-extreme’ really does cut through everything like a freshly sharpened Bowie knife.
Rod makes two appearances; one alongside a host of other great voices on an almost psychedelic version of Sanatorium Blues; then on the much easier on the ear Tecumseh Valley/Dead Flowers hybrid; which was an early contender for the ‘favourite song’ accolade.
That in fact goes to the stunning Waiting Around To Die; with Chris Cacavas from the legendary Green on Red on Vocals fronting an intensely tight band of fine musicians, which leaves me breathless every time I hear it.
This would have been a fascinating project even if it had only been one singer re-enacting the concert; but by featuring such a variety of bands, singers and musicians to cover each song in their own inimitable way is very nearly genius; and every one concerned, especially Edward Abbiati should be incredibly proud of themselves.
Released February 10th 2017