Written by James Killen
It’s been a while since I visited the Barnes House Concert but I was welcomed like I had been there last week. Bill and Deanna are genuinely gracious folks and it is a joy to join them for a scrumptious pot luck buffet and a cozy listening experience. On this night the featured artists were the Flying A’s, a married singer-songwriter couple, Stuart and Hilary Adamson. They came in to perform stripped down acoustic versions of their fully produced electric recorded works.
The first set started off with the Hill Country touring song, “Rolling On”. Stuart’s guitar work shined through even in the acoustic versions of the electric songs. They kicked in to the first song of the evening off of their latest disc, “You Drive Me Crazy”, called “This Dirt” about a family that had been on a farm for five generations fighting a freeway right of way.
Stuart performed one of his rockabilly numbers, “Heart Examined” before the duet continued promoting their latest with , “I Won’t Stop Loving You”, Weak and Wild” and “Little Miss Tumbleweed” in quick succession. They followed this run with one of Hilary’s SWRFA creations, “Faith and Gasoline”.
The A’s are active participants in SWRFA (Southwest Regional Folk Alliance) which is a networking event for folk musicians, music venue owners and music media folks. One of the exercises at the meeting is that each of the artists is given topic for a song. The artist has to write the song over the weekend and perform it on the last day.
The band knocked out two more from “You Drive Me Crazy” (“Blistered” and “Wild Texas Wind”) before going to intermission. During intermission at a house concert the artists generally do a little mingling and Hilary proved to have one of the warmest personalities in the music biz, reaching out to everyone that made it by the merch table.
The second set kicked off with the rousing “Roadwork Ahead” followed by Stuart’s “One More Time”. Hilary kicked in some vocal calisthenics on the jazzy “Mr. Blue” and a wonderful rendition of Les Paul’s “How High the Moon” complete with some scat singing.
Stuart wowed us with his guitar work again “Two Wrongs Will Make It Right”. He followed that with the result of one of his SWRFA projects, “Blood and Bone”. Oddly enough, Stuart confessed that the subject that he was supposed to write on was “Garden Gnome”. He turned it into a song about cheating and feeling less that human from the guilt.
Hilary really belted out the Joe Tex standard, “I Want to Do Everything For You”, a song that was popularized in the 1980’s by the rock band, Nazareth. The duo ended up the show with a rocking version of “Don’t Need the Road No More”.
Seeing the Flying A’s in such a homey environment as the Barnes’ living room really brings the listener closer to where the music begins. It’s just acoustic guitars and voices over a small PA. There’s no fancy production, no heavy rhythm section, and no soaring electric leads. There is, however, all of the warmth and humor and personality that went into creating the songs in the first place. That makes an evening at a house concert worth the while.