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Doug Hoekstra Combo - Live 09/09/2000

  by John Clarkson

published: 17 / 12 / 2001



Doug Hoekstra Combo - Live 09/09/2000
Label: hinah
Format: CD

intro

In a recent interview with the Pennyblackmusic site, Laurent Orseau and Eloise Steclebout, the owners of the new French micro-label hinah, explained that, as well as being more cost-effective, the rea


In a recent interview with the Pennyblackmusic site, Laurent Orseau and Eloise Steclebout, the owners of the new French micro-label hinah, explained that, as well as being more cost-effective, the reason why they had decided to initially concentrate on live recordings was because they felt a live show gives a unique " kind of snapshot of a band at a given time." For hinah's first release, they released a recording of the last of three special shows played by the French band Vera Clouzot to celebrate the launch of their third album 'Kachina'. With their second hinah release, they have now stretched out this concept a little further and released a recording of a splendid one-off show performed by the Nashville based solo artist Doug Hoekstra at Sal's Music Emporium, an independent music store, in Iowa City. Doug Hoekstra first came to public attention in the early nineties as the frontman in the country group Bucket Number 6. When Bucket Number 6 split up in 1994, after releasing two albums, Hoekstra turned solo and has since then drawn comparisions with singer-songwriters as diverse as Bob Dylan, Beck and Leonard Cohen. Difficult to categorise, or to slot into a particular genre, despite his Nashville background, his semi-acoustic music is a powerful hybrid of pop, country and folk styles. He has now released four solo albums, 'When the Tubes Begin to Glow' (1995), 'Rickety Stairs' (1996), 'Make Me Believe' (1999) and most recently 'Around the Margins' (2001). A published short story writer as well as a musician, many of Hoekstra's songs tell of lives in the balance and on the edge. Hoekstra plays both the acoustic guitar and the harmonica on 'Live 9/9/2000', and the album, which like its predecessor is limited to just fifty copies, also features Pat Meusel, his regular guitarist, on baritone guitar and Kat Parsons, a Chicago based singer, on backing vocals. The majority of its songs are drawn from 'Make Me Believe' and the then still-to-be released 'Around the Margins'. Parsons, who has recently released her own first album 'Framing Caroline', however, takes over lead vocals for one track 'Standing Still', and there is also a rollicking, exuberant cover of an old Bucket Number 6 song 'Rose on the Dashboard.' Much of the pleasure of 'Live 9/9/00' comes from the contrasting musical styles and vocal deliveries of its three protagonists. Hoekstra's lightly plucked acoustic guitar counteracts perfectly with Meusel's ruminative and meandering fretwork, while his laid back and softly delicate vocals balance well with the acrobatic and fiery vocal dynamics of the extraordinary Parsons. The songs, however, are excellent too. The opening number 'Sam Cooke Sang the Gospel', with sudden injections of breezy harmonica, and trilling backing vocals from Parsons, finds its narrator developing a belief in God after listening to Sam Cooke. On the languidly-beautiful 'Desdemona' , Hoekstra and Parsons swop vocals with each new verse. Told from both points of view, it tells of a chance meeting and abrupt romance between two strangers on a train that ends as quickly as it has begun. The more urgent 'Birmingham Jail', however, is a protest song, and both inspired by a visit Hoekstra made to a one-time Atlanta prison and a savage indictment of the death penalty, is written in part from the perspective of a condemned man. Hoekstra's laid-back in-between songs chatter is also worthy of note. Unusually for a live album, Orseau and Steclebout have chosen to include most of Hoekstra's on-stage banter with his audience also, and this further enhances the recording. Hoekstra and his friend Sal Leanhart, the owner of the Music Emporium, had hoped for years to do an in-house show together, but had never managed to get their schedules to coincide. The sheer fact that he has made it both to Iowa City and Sal's at last provides Hoekstra with most of the material for his stage monologues and best gives this album its sense of occasion and place. He tells of a picnic that has gone wrong earlier that afternoon, jokes about a football game also in Iowa City that night, and concludes finally and forcefully with a brief, but funny speech about the benefits of independent music stores over chain names. 'Live 9/9/00' captures a unique night. Developing hinah philosophy further in the process by concentrating on small as well as the large details, it is a second excellent addition to the French label's catalogue, both serving as the perfect introduction to newcomers to Hoekstra's music and also proving essential listening for established fans. Live recordings rarely come any better or are more special than this.



Track Listing:-
1 Sam Cooke Sang The Gospel
2 Celebrate The Trance
3 Stolen Gun
4 Here and Now
5 Atticus
6 Desdemona
7 Standing Still
8 Birmingham Jail
9 Rose On The Dashboard



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