Written by James Killen
It was a cold wind that blew through the Americana parking lot Monday night and blew in Boyd Blomberg and Adam Moe (AKA Pushing Chain) from Minnesota. Adam remarked inside that he had to put on a long-sleeve shirt, snickering to himself a bit to see Texans shivering in the low 30’s temperatures while reports from home put the temperature at 20 below zero.
Jim Sloan was leading the 6PM bluegrass jam circle that included Miss Leslie and several other Blanco’s refugees. Adam with his fiddle and Boyd with his guitar grabbed a couple of chairs in the circle and fit right in like two of the gang. They added a solo or two to the other guys’ songs and brought out some traditional tunes from their portfolio. It was easy to see the whole bunch was having fun while they threw in different verses on “Salty Dog”, rated anywhere from PG to R.
Boyd and Moe seemed a little reluctant to leave the jam to take the stage for themselves, but they took it with the energy and enthusiasm that I’ve come to expect from them. They spent most of the first set on songs from their latest disc, “Sorrows Always Swim”. It was recorded at Mark Hallman’s Congress House Studios and could boast Bill Kirchen sharing production credits with Mark and a host of Austin musicians on the songs.
The guys diverged from the album a few times to cover the traditional bluegrass tune, “Cold Rain and Snow” and an old folk tune called “The Cuckoo”. A listener challenged them to doing a little Canadian music, to which Boyd acquiesced with Ian and Sylvia’s “Four Strong Winds”. They also covered Tom T. Hall’s narrative tune, “A Week in a Country Jail”.
During the break, Ron Rost was coaxed from the audience to perform three of his tunes, eliciting a few grins with his unique sense of humor and tugging a tear or two with a heartfelt song of lost love.
Pushing Chain only took a short break before returning to the stage for a shorter second set. They spent more time in this set on songs from their earlier self-titled CD. They did take a short break from their own tunes to cover a Roger Miller tune, “Kansas City Star”, introducing it by stating that if you have three minutes, you have time for a Roger Miller song. The guys finished their set on time with their eyes set on making a run up the road toward Tuesday’s show in Norman, Oklahoma.
I first saw Pushing Chain a couple of years ago at SWRFA and was excited to see that Mark Zeus had them booked at the Americana. They impressed me from the beginning as full of energy and completely at home with their style of roots folk and country music. There was nothing in this fine performance to sway me from that initial assessment and I gained a little more respect for their repertoire of traditional songs and ability to improvise with other musicians. Catch these guys if you can.