I've blogged about Slaid Cleaves before but he's worth blogging about again because of all the changes to his life and music. And because this was his triumphant return to San Antonio.
Slaid used to play at Casbeers at the Church on South Alamo, but now that that venue is closed he says he was a bit confused about where to hang his hat in San Antonio. He says he may not be country enough for Floore's Country Store. So he was glad to make an unusual mid-winter appearance at Sam's Burger Joint downtown.
And the crowd was good for a Friday night. Chairs were set up in front of the stage and they were almost all taken and so were the booths along the walls. That left yours truly and my crowd of rowdies standing in the back. No problem, the sound was clear and the view was good from the merchandise table.
One of Slaid's latest albums has the uplifting title of "Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away," with the song "Cry" containing the lyrics mentioned in the title. Be that as it may, the album is rife with great songwriting: good tunes, great lyrics. I have so many favorites on that album I'll mention a few that might be overlooked. I particularly "Green Mountains and Me," "Tumbleweed Stew," and "Twistin'". The last one is a song about being a hangman in the old days of the death penalty.
I'll leave you with one quote from Slaid's website, www.slaid.com. It's about why he decided to record a LIVE album at Austin's dubious Horseshoe Lounge: "AUSTIN, Texas — When Slaid Cleaves moved from Portland, Maine, to Austin, Texas, at the tail end of 1991, he landed on South Lamar Boulevard, a few blocks from the legendarily seedy Horseshoe Lounge. But as he points out on his new live album, “It was many years of drivin’ by before I worked up the courage to come in through the door.”
Maybe his New Englander’s reserve got the better of him; one thing most Texans do not fear is walking into a bar. But curiosity and, no doubt, the lure of stories contained within eventually won out, and in 2000, Slaid wound up releasing “Horseshoe Lounge,” an ode to the 46-year-old beer joint, on his breakout CD Broke Down. A turning point in his career, Broke Down transformed Cleaves from feckless Austin singer/songwriter, playing open mics and running sound at the legendary Cactus Cafe to Americana chart-topping, New York Times-lauded (“One of the finest songwriters from Texas”) national touring artist. Oh, yeah, and the 2001 Austin Music Awards named the title track, written with childhood pal Rod Picott, Best Song of the Year."
Be sure to check out the ten photo slide show with professional photos (obviously not mine) by William Caldera. You'll think you were there.
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