By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
It's been a veritable roller coaster of a year for the Old 97's: big-name attention, major-label foofaraw, and the derision of Whiskeytown's resident know-it-all and professional butthead David Ryan Adams (what is that guy's problem?). Now the shameless 97's have bamboozled another poor boob who doesn't know as much about country music as Adams, cruelly tricking Waylon Jennings into releasing a single with them. The single--"Iron Road," backed with "The Other Shoe"--is a study in musical synergy, with the Old 97's drawing presence and authority from Jennings' participation and Jennings sounding fresher, younger, and more involved than he has in ages. The effort teeters on the verge of release, almost complete except for Jennings' approval of the artwork: a portrait of him and the 97's done by cowpunk godfather Jon Langford.
The Old 97's headline a show at one of my favorite venues in town--the Lakewood Theater, an art deco edifice with a stateliness and presence that in no way gets in the way of a rockin' good time. Houston's Jesse Dayton occupies the middle slot. A great guitarist who has been very much in demand the last few years--his last album came out just as Jennings asked him to hit the road as his touring band's lead picker, a plum that Dayton had to think about before, sadly, refusing--and Dayton has been steadily developing the character to go with his technical virtuosity.
Jennings hasn't done anything with the bill's openers, the Calways, but that's probably because he hasn't met them yet. At the band's creative core sit dual Todds Deatherage and Pertl. Although the Calways started out as a punky, country-ish outfit quite reminiscent of the 97's, they've since grown into more of a rock band (but without, as they say, forgettin' their raisin'). They've got a full-length album nearing completion, so look to hear quite a few songs from that impending release. This Friday night at the Lakewood should be a great primer in what makes the Dallas music scene so vital--no matter what Spin magazine or David Ryan Adams thinks.
The Calways, Jesse Dayton, and the Old 97's play Friday, December 12, at the Lakewood Theater.