Doug Burr CD Release Show
May 14, 2010
Better than: Sifting through the relatively meager Tivo selection I had to choose from at home.
After walking into the beautifully restored and recently reopened Kessler Theatre in Oak Cliff, there was a surprising and extremely welcome sight: Doug Burr with a full band behind him.
With this being one of Burr's first performances since the release of his stellar new album, O Ye Devastator, the anticipation was already running pretty high. Burr had kept a fairly tight lid on the new songs before the album's release earlier this month.
Burr's band for the evening included his trusty side-kick Glen Farris on keys, guitar, harmonica and banjo, Todd Pertl on pedal steel and the rhythm section of Austin music veterans,
The Monahans. The collective took the stage and wasted no time in flexing the muscle that the added musicians can bring to a live set. It was also evident to the 50 or so people gathered that Burr wasn't going to have a problem skipping older, well-known material for new cuts that have only recently been added to his repertoire.
Opening with "A Black Wave is Comin'", and immediately rolling into the surprisingly catchy "Chief of Police in Chicago," Burr didn't speak between songs and displayed the edgy efficiency of an artist wanting to just get down to the business at hand.
It's easy for the locals who have seen Burr perform solo, or perhaps along with only Farris, to forget that Burr isn't some sort of solo-acoustic specialist. The songs from his albums, On Promenade and O Ye Devastator, specifically, are fully fleshed out creations of country-folk with a smattering of rock flourishes, and are allowed to fully be what they were intended to be when a complete compliment of instrumentation is employed.
Perhaps the best case in point would be the reverb-drenched "At the Public Dance." With the tempo of the tune seemingly slowed just a tad, Burr and his band, plain and simple, rocked out. Ending that number with a spacey, post-rock jam that would have sent Explosions in the Sky packing up their pedals and heading home, Burr flowed effortlessly into his next tune, the somber, aching "You've Been a Suspect All Your Life."
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It was the yin and yang, the quiet and the loud, that blended so well and gave Burr's performance a commanding nuance that's hard to attain in an acoustic setting.
Making his way through a few more tunes from the new album, Burr completed the run of new material, and then punctuated the performance with romping versions of two long-time favorites. The pedal steel-kissed "Graniteville" chugged along to its typically heartbreaking and climactic conclusion. Then the country-goth stomp, "Aint Got No Chains" brought Burr's performance to a satisfying, and all too early, close.
Personal Bias: I've been a Doug Burr fan for years. I can't help but pull for the guy. In a region where there are many powerfully emotive and distinctive male voices, Burr's could very well be at the top of the list.
Random Note: The Kessler is a beautiful place, and it's really a great room for a show. I can only imagine what it'll be like when the place is packed with the size of crowd that will only add to the overall good vibes. Sadly, the "crowd" on Friday night really wasn't much of one at all.