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

Live Reviews from web archive December 28, 2008

Bottle Rockets

Duck Room (St. Louis, MO), December 27, 2008

The Bottle Rockets actually began playing together in 1992, but their first album came out in 1993, so the fifteenth-anniversary celebration they conducted this year seems reasonable enough. Given that singer-guitarist Brian Henneman and drummer Mark Ortmann have played together for more than 25 years, and that they are the only two Bottle Rockets to appear on every album and every tour, fifteen years seems just one benchmark among many.

The Bottle Rockets ended their round of fifteen shows since spring with as perfect a summation of their career as any fan could want. In every city on this not-quite-tour, the set lists were chosen randomly from entries submitted by contributors to the band’s message board. As a result, the shows have been filled with a nice mixture of obvious classics (“$1000 Car”, “Radar Gun”, “Indianapolis”) and deep album cuts (“Middle Man”, “Headed For The Ditch”, “Nancy Sinatra”).

The current lineup has been together for three and a half years, and has turned into one of the tightest configurations of rock musicians working today. With Henneman and John Horton trading powerhouse lead lines and crunchy, country-inflected licks, the guitars have locked into some sort of mind-meld. If you’re not watching their hands, you can’t always tell which one of them is sending those chills up your spine.

And then there’s the rhythm section. Ortmann remains one of the best unsung drummers in rock. The man crackles right in the pocket like Charlie Watts, yet tends to throw in far more fills to drive the songs. Keith Voegele has added a spark to the bottom end with his bass lines, which alternate between elastic melodies and rumbling grooves.

The fan-chosen set lists for each city included one cover song each time; this night featured an extremely intense “Hey Hey My My” from Neil Young. To reward the longtime hometown fans as well as those who traveled to see this show, the second set this night included all of the previous shows’ covers played in a row. Henneman has probably played Young’s “Down By the River” since he was 12 years old; “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd was another obvious choice. It was cool to hear him play Wilco’s “Passenger Side”, given that his guitar playing was essential to the recorded version; Voegele sang it nicely, too. The true revelations came with wonderful takes on the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black”, David Bowie’s “Suffragette City”, and most especially Redbone’s pop classic “Come And Get Your Love”. After a fabulous set of their own material, the Bottle Rockets suddenly turned into the greatest cover band playing anywhere in the world this night.

(The Bottle Rockets playing Redbone’s “Come And Get Your Love” to close out a fifteenth-anniversary show at the Basement in Nashville, August 2008)

In between, Henneman awarded prizes of “Bottle Rockets for life” (every album from the past to the future, free admission to every performance, and even a drink every time) as well as the beautiful custom-built guitar he’s played all year. The venue, the Duck Room, is a completely remodeled and expanded use of the space that once held Cicero’s Basement Bar, where Henneman and Ortmann often held court (playing some of the same songs) with Chicken Truck in the 1980s. Somehow, it seemed appropriate to see Henneman give so much to his fans in the place where he could so often be seen as a fan and an up-and-coming musician himself, back in the day.

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 »

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

  • Dylan, "Desire" and the (other) Story of Hurricane: A Lesson In Fatherhood
    Reading of the death of former pro boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter today awoke an old memory which reminded me how lucky I was to have, what in retrospect, was a pretty cool father.  I should add by "cool" I do not mean some kind of "over the hill hipster" who, in a desperate attempt at trying to stay relevant smokes pot or acts […]
  • Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes – Black Coffee (Album Review)
    After a successful solo outing, Aussie country singer Lachlan Bryan got his old band back into the studio and came up with this cracker of an album. It was released in the autumn of last year in Australia and subsequently picked up a major award as “Alternative Country” album of the year. Such acclaim means any belated praise from me is superfluous, but I’m […]
  • 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 […]

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