Concert Review: Eilen Jewell Sings Loretta Lynn
I love those shows that you hear about at the last minute and then, after much back and forth whether you should go or just head home, you decide to go to the show, and you are rewarded and proved to have made the right choice.
All of this happened this week when, after a little waffling, I found myself waiting in line at the Lizard Lounge to see the wonderful Eilen Jewell and band. I’ve written about her many times, including a review of her latest album, “Sea of Tears,” which is still my favorite album of the year. (My review is here.)
Anyway, while waiting in line — and waiting for my wife to meet me for the show — ended up chatting with some really nice, equally excited fans as well as the always-smiling Johnny Sciascia, bassist in Eilen’s band. In fact, Johnny informed me that the band just learned that one of its songs from the new album will be on HBO’s popular vampire show “True Blood,” which is really a big deal. He believed the episode will air sometime this month, so we’ll have to watch out for that.
OK, on to the music: First up was the Brewer-Miller Band (or is that Miller-Brewer?). Whichever it is, they are something to hear. Two great local guitarists — Lyle Brewer of Sarah Borges’ Broken Singles and Jerry Miller from Eilen’s band — were backed by Eilen’s drummer Jason Beek and Sciascia, and they basically kicked ass, trading leads back and forth for a set of country-rock tunes. Some of them I recognized, though I cannot come up with song titles here. All I could do was shake my head at the amazing sounds coming from the guitars. Miller has the classic country licks, while Brewer adds an extra southern rock twang to his playing.
A short break later, Eilen made her way on stage backed by her aformentioned band and proceeded to play 15 or so Loretta Lynn tunes. The band was billed as Butcher Holler, the town (actually Butcher Hollow) that Lynn lived in Kentucky. It must have been some contractual reason why they couldn’t perform under their own name… not sure there. Now, I don’t know many (if any) Loretta Lynn tunes by name. I know Eilen covered Lynn’s “The Darkest Hour” on “Sea of Tears,” which was great live. But Eilen sang each of Lynn’s tunes as if they were her own, and the band followed suit playing the tunes with class, and humor, and reverence. It was a wonderful evening.
The band finished off right around 1:30 a.m. with a couple of Jewell jewels including “Fist City,” which is just a blast. Lyle Brewer joined the band for the final songs, and completed a great night. Spotted in the crowd: Sarah Borges and her drummer Rob Dulaney.