Sunday, September 02, 2007

Mark Olson and The Last Town Chorus, Live

Last night I was lucky enough to see The Last Town Chorus open up for Mark Olson (former Jayhawk founding member) at the Iron Horse Theater in Northampton, MA, both of which are touring in support of their latest albums (Wire Waltz for The LTC and The Salvation Blues for Mark). It was a small crowd that I was a part of, but quite an enjoyable evening.

For those of you not familiar with The Last Town Chorus, the chorus really is Megan Hickey, playing her lap steel guitar. And if you've heard her songs before and have been impressed with her playing, you need to catch her live. The way that she holds the instrument, caressing, plucking, striking, easing spectacular notes that bend and wail. It's simply haunting in its sound, which isn't really completely conveyed via recording.

If you are going to listen to one of her tracks below, You and Modern Love (a David Bowie cover that has an utterly different feel to it compared to the original), please listen to both. They're tracks two and three on the album and they seamlessly meld into one another. The rest of the album is just as good, with Megan's voice conveying a sense of longing and loneliness that mates well with the keening notes of her instrument.

The Last Town Chorus - You : Wire Waltz

The Last Town Chorus - Modern Love (David Bowie cover) : Wire Waltz

Visit their website, their label HackTone Records, and become their friend on MySpace.


After Megan came the main attraction for the evening: Mark Olson and his supporting band. Even if his name isn't instantly recognizable to you, you should know the seminal alt-country band The Jayhawks which he founded in 1985 and played with for 10 years. After leaving the band in 1995 (the band wished to pursue a more pop-orientated style) Mark formed the Creekdippers, with which he recorded several albums. Now he's going solo, although his latest album also features the long-awaited reunion with his former Jayhawks band mate and writing partner, Gary Louris, on three songs.

He started his set last night with Winter Song from the new album, and in fact over the course of the evening played almost the entire album. With a career that stretches back over twenty years, Mark has a deep pocket of material to draw from, and he did so last night, playing some Jayhawks' songs (Blue and Over My Shoulder) as well as a Creekdipper song (Big Old Sign). What impressed me the most though wasn't the breadth of his material, rather the fact that he seemed to enjoy himself on stage so greatly. Clearly he enjoyed himself as much last night as he has for the countless other shows he's put on over the many years of touring.

If you get the chance to see the pair perform, it's well worth the price of admission to see an upcoming artist and one who's had a large impact on music of today. Look below for upcoming tour dates.

Mark Olson - Clifton Bridge : The Salvation Blues

Mark Olson - Sandy Denny : The Salvation Blues

Visit his label HackTone Records and become his friend on MySpace.


David Bowie - Modern Love : The Best Of David Bowie 1980-1987: Sight & Sound

The Jayhawks - Lights : Sweet Relief: A Benefit for Victoria Williams

The Jayhawks - Blue : Rock Live from Mountain Stage

Mark Olson and the Creekdippers - Give My Heart To You : Pacific Coast Rambler


Remaining North American Tour Dates


2 - Borders Braintree (Boston, MA) - in-store performance & signing - 1:45p - *FREE*
2 - Paradise Lounge (Boston, MA) - w/ The Last Town Chorus - 7:30p
4 - World Café Live (Philadelphia, PA) - w/ The Last Town Chorus - 7:00p
5 - Borders (Philadelphia, PA - Broad St.) - in-store performance - 12:15p - *FREE*
6 - Borders - (DC - 18th & L) - in-store performance - 12:15p - *FREE*
6 - Iota (Arlington, VA/Washington, DC) - w/ The Last Town Chorus - 8:00p
7 - Hideaway BBQ (Raleigh, NC) - w/ The Last Town Chorus - 9:00p
8 - The Melting Point (Athens, GA) - w/ The Last Town Chorus - 8:00p
9 - Borders (Atlanta - Buckhead) - in-store performance - 2:45p - *FREE*
9 - Smith's Olde Bar (Atlanta, GA) - w/ The Last Town Chorus
10 - Grimey's (Nashville, TN) - in-store performance & signing - 4:30pm *FREE*
10 - 3rd & Lindsley (Nashville, TN) - 7:15p
12 - The Blue Door (Oklahoma City, OK) - 7:30pm
13 - Borders (Overland Park, KS) - in-store performance & signing - 6:30p *FREE*
14 - Davey's Uptown Ramblers Club (Kansas City, MO) - 7:00p
15 - Borders (Colorado Springs, CO) - in-store performance & signing - 6:30p *FREE*
18 - Borders (Tucson, AZ) - in-store performance & signing - 6:30p *FREE*
19 - Plush (Tucson, AZ) - 9:30p
20 - Raven Café (Prescott, AZ) - 8:30p

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