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Monday, July 8, 2013

A Look Back at the October 99' Solo Tour....

Recently I've been re-listening to all the recordings from October of 99' for the first time in a long while. It's been at least seven years since I've listened to them, and I can't believe how incredible some of these shows were. At the time, Whiskeytown had recently wrapped up the recording sessions for their final album - Pneumonia, while Ryan was just beginning his journey as a solo artist. With Van Alston tagging along as his road manager, Ryan set out on his first solo acoustic tour, playing shows with songwriters - Josh Rouse, Tift Merritt, Chip Robinson, Kenny Roby, Merle Saunders, and more.

On this brief tour of the south, Ryan played a mix of Whiskeytown songs, covers, and brand new material he was working on for his first album. Only a couple of the songs ("In My Time of Need", and "To Be the One") would end up on Heartbreaker a year later. While a majority of the songs remain unreleased to this day. These shows offer a rare glimpse of Ryan Adams, still coming to terms with his role as a solo artist, and winning crowds over one bar at a time.

Here are just a few things that really stuck out to me:
  1. The musical chemistry of Ryan Adams and Caitlin Cary will never be matched..... not by Norah Jones, Neal Casal, Catherine Popper, or dare I say it - Emmylou Harris. During the shows at The Local 506 (10/20) and The Brewery (10/21-22), Caitlin joins Ryan on fiddle and vocals for a number of Whiskeytown classics. Their stripped down renditions of "The Battle" and "My Heart is Broken" are a must listen!
  2. Uhhhhhh - "Folklore"...... where the hell did this song come from, and better yet where did it go? It's amazing! The song didn't stand out to me when I first heard it in 2001, but going back to it now, it's definitely one of my favorites of this era; and I'm dumbfounded as to why it was never released. The song features some pretty cool open tuned picking patterns, and has a very different feel from the other material he was writing at the time...... also you gotta love the line: "It's all just folklore now/Washed out blood and memories".
  3. The Nashville show (10/28) is a fan favorite show, and deserves to be! Gillian Welch joins Ryan onstage and sings her classic number - "Relevator" (with Ryan playing some tasty guitar licks). This is followed by "Dancing with the Women at the Bar", and the greatest cover of Neil Young's "Helpless" you'll ever hear!
  4. I like Chip Robinson and Kenny Roby's solo material, but I don't like it when they sing backup vocals for Ryan. It just sounds sloppy.
  5. "Onslow County" - could this be an early incarnation of "Come Pick Me Up"?? The song was only played a few times in concert but shares a lot of similarities (same tempo and time signature, similar harmonica playing, bridge starts out the same.... different lyrics though).

Below is some more info on the shows-  including links to: downloads, a listening log with rating and highlights, song stats, and more. I'll also be posting live recordings of the 10/20 and 10/25 shows in the coming weeks. This will be an ongoing project for this blog where I revisit tours, one leg at a time. Hope you enjoy.

10.20.99 - The Local 506, Chapel Hill, NC
10.21.99 - The Brewery, Raleigh, NCListen to the Show
10.22.99 - The Brewery, Raleigh, NCListen to the Show
10.23.99 - The 40 Watt Club, Athens, GA - %
10.24.99 - Sing Sing, Chattanooga, TN - %
10.25.99 - Smith's Old Bar, Atlanta, GA
10.27.99 - The Nick, Birmingham, AL - %
10.28.99 - Exit Inn, Nashville, TNListen to the Show
10.29.99 - Almost Blue, Asheville, NCListen to the Show

Highlighted Shows were recorded.
% - Full set list not available. If you were at the show or have any info, it would be greatly appreciated. Please comment below or email me. 

October 99' Song Stats (does not include the setlists for : 10/23, 10/24, or 10/27, since they are either unknown or not complete.)

October 99' Listening Logs - notes, highlights, ratings, and more about each of the shows listed above.

Set Lists can be found at: http://www.archiveasylum.com/ab/

Live Debuts (11) - Born Yesterday, Funny How I'm Losing You, To Be the One, Petal in a Rainstorm, Hey There Mrs. Lovely, In My Time of Need, Statuettes with Wounds, Memories of You, Onslow County, The Day I Left Home (It Wasn't), Revelator (Ryan sings background vocals and lead guitar).

Guest Appearances - Caitlin Cary (10/20, 10/21, and 10/22), Kenny Roby and Chip Robinson (10/21, and 10/22); Gillian Welch (10/28)

Strongest Performances of Tour: 10/21, 10/25, and 10/28

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