Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Miked - Live Reviews from Issue #69 May-June 2007

Guy ClarkJoe ElyJohn HiattLyle Lovett

State Theatre (Cleveland, OH), January 20, 2007

You have to start at the end — where they paid respects to Townes Van Zandt, the songwriter/compadre who captured the essence of life after being on the lam in “Pancho & Lefty” with the snippet, “The desert’s quiet and Cleveland’s cold.” Indeed it was cold, very cold, in downtown Cleveland the night Guy Clark, Joe Ely, John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett took four chairs and three hours to build a bonfire from well-loved songs. Their deep camaraderie and loose talk spoke volumes about where and how songs that matter come about, infusing the gathered midwestern faithful with a warm glow from the inside. All four are singular artists; their uniqueness is their common ground. Lovett is the hipster bebop jazz-timed crooner with the bent details and the bruised heart. Hiatt is the souled-up sweaty rock-swamp family guy whose real-life moments are mirrors for the middle class; Ely is the rogue drifter, equal parts border texture, stoic machismo and honor-steeped romance. Clark is all oak, musk and knowing, his economy of word shining through a prism to reveal the beauty of daily living. Each delivered on expectation. Together — with the laughing, story-swapping questions posed by ad hoc host Lovett — they were more. The effortlessness took on a grace from the shared respect and onstage intimacy: Clark offered the elegiac “Let Him Roll” in his deep, even tones; Hiatt dredged “Crossing Muddy Waters” with his guts turned inside out; Lovett’s steamy “My Baby Don’t Tolerate” shot through with the eroticism of how it is; Ely delivered his plaintive, threadbare “Letters To Laredo” with faded cowboy bravado. It was a master class on why great songs cling to one’s mind long after the guitar cases are packed up. To hear the men who created tender hymns of falter (Hiatt’s “Have A Little Faith In Me”), resolution (Ely’s “Settle For Love”), desperation (Lovett’s “L.A. County”) and decadent simplicity (Clark’s “Homegrown Tomatoes”) so unadorned is to understand that blood flows through these songs. They’re hollow-point bullets that’ll take your breath, hit you point blank, haunt you like the ghost of the one you lost. Listening to them telling stories as they dip into Hiatt’s rousing, feel-good “Memphis In The Meantime”, Lovett’s mirthful drifter’s declaration “If I Had A Pony”, Ely’s fanciful revenge tale “Me & Billy The Kid” — or even growing quiet for Clark’s urgent “Magdalene” — one understands, quite plainly, that this is what they do. Their performances bore witness to why these songs are such a part of the culture: They are circumstances each of us can embrace. Desperadoes’ escapes can sometimes be simply — as Clark opened the night — to “just get offa this L.A. freeway without getting killed or caught.” In that everyday revolt, the rebel in us plays out.

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108


Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #69 May-June 2007

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »

From the Blogs

  • Album Reviews: Gord Downie & The Sadies, Bruce Springsteen, Lost & Nameless, The Annie Ford Band
    Gord Downie, The Sadies, and the Conquering Sun The lead singer of one of Canada’s most influential rock bands gets together with one of the best live bands ever for a collaborative effort and the expected results could range anywhere from confusion to straight ahead awesomeness. Thankfully (and not surprisingly, given the players involved) the semi-eponymou […]
  • Blackberry Smoke Is the Goddamn Truth
    Southern rock is a stylistic hodgepodge--a musical mutt.  Yet in this gumbo pot of a country, its impurities and cross-breeding make it the most American genre of all. And with the Allman Brothers drawing down, southern rock's current standard bearer is Blackberry Smoke, a lofty perch they hardly jeopardized during a lively set last night at Seattle […]
  • Goldie and the Gingerbreads: The First All-Female Guitar Band
    It could only happen in America: In 1947, a 7-year-old Polish-Jewish girl named Genyusha "Genya" Zelkovicz arrived in New York City's Lower East Side with her parents and a sister, speaking not a word of English. They were the only ones in their family to survive the Holocaust. Genya's mother nicknamed her Goldie, and thus began her Ameri […]
  • Wayne Kramer - Lexington (Album Review)
    Wayne Kramer is someone who's life story I'd very much like to read. From lead guitar in the Mighty MC5 to prison inmate to social activist (he recently interviewed Pussy Riot, and is constantly active in speaking out against such injustices) to new father, Kramer's life has an interesting story in every chapter. His latest record release (and […]
  • Kim Churchill – Biltmore Cabaret (Vancouver, April 16th, 2014)
    Watching Kim Churchill take the stage is an experience in and off itself. Despite the fact that the Australian singer-songwriter plays alone, he’s not exactly a minimalist when it comes to gear. The multi-instrumentalist sits behind a kit that includes a couple of guitars, a kick drum, a kick tambourine, a set of chimes and a larger pedal board that my brain […]
  • Good Vibes and Fun Times at Old Settler's Music Festival 2014 (Live Review)
    Once again music lovers descended on the Hill Country for a weekend of fantastic music and wonderful weather. This year’s Old Settler’s Festival showcased a wide range of artists spanning an even wider range of genres. What brought everyone together was the enjoyment of this long-running festival that refuses to sell its soul to marketers in order to guarant […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!

Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter