Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Concert Review--Terri Hendrix w/Lloyd Maines

Dan’s Silverleaf hasn’t exactly been burning Denton down with their hot shows lately, and those that have been there I’ve missed for various reasons. I did have the pleasure recently, however, to see Terri Hendrix perform with Lloyd Maines. I wasn’t terribly familiar with Hendrix outside of a couple of radio songs, but Maines is a legend of country music. An expert on multiple instruments and a master of the steel guitar, he has played with and produced albums for an amazing array of artists over three decades, including all of Terry Allen’s best work. At this point, his name may be most associated with his daughter, Nathalie, of the Dixie Chicks, but his talents far outweigh those of his offspring.

Terri Hendrix is a strange artist, traditional in a way you don’t see very much. She is a storyteller, first and foremost, more than a singer, who sets her spoken words to a simple guitar line. All of her songs have spoken and sung parts and her style is not one I’m immediately in love with, though her country demeanor is very endearing. For my taste, she’s better when she breaks into actual song than the spoken parts. She sings in a straightforward, no-frills manner with a delivery that conveys just the right feeling of childlike innocence and wonderment while keeping a very good report with her audience, engaging them directly in her stories.

That said, I didn’t particularly care for her songs, though I don’t mean the music is bad, just not for all tastes. I went with two others and one felt just like I did. Neither of us thought she was bad, we just weren’t terribly enthralled and found ourselves often distracted. The third, however, left the two of us entirely, found a seat in the crowd to sit and watch every last moment.

I loved the musicianship; Maines is an unbelievable musician. He had with him a guitar, a mandolin, and a lap steel and played all three with equal dexterity. Once song, which I believe is titled “You Belong in New Orleans,” has Maines performing a near-perfect imitation of Django Reinhardt, my #1 all time favorite guitar player. He worked as hard as he did all night and pulled it off brilliantly.

Musically, the entire show was fantastic, if a little short at just over an hour. I just wish I had liked the songs better. Her earnest delivery works well for some people, the crowd in general seemed thrilled with her, but not so much for me. This earnestness is much better, however, that he opposite in a guy like Jesse Dayton, who’s too busy telling his audience about his close friendship with Robert Earl Keane to actually sing a damn song. No matter my lukewarm feelings toward Hendrix, the show was worth more than the purchase price to watch a legend like Maines play. Hell, I’d probably buy a ticket to see him if he was backing up Barney on Ice.