Written by Samuel Barker
Aug 28, 2003 at 08:00 PM
ImageAfter the two and a half year hiatus the band took between Brand New Year and Songs of Sahm, this past year hasn’t seemed so bad waiting for the band to finish their new album, Blue Skies, which they featured strongly on this night, as the band made a triumphant return to the Continental Club.As a bit of a surprise, the band returned a four-piece with the addition of John Horton on second guitar, sharing the work with vocalist/guitarist Brian Henneman. Those familiar with the band may recognize Horton as the bassist of Henneman and drummer Mark Ortmann’s side band Diesel Island.

This familiarity was apparent as Horton weaved in and out of the songs with the feeling of someone with years of experience playing with the band, even changing up some parts of the songs by adding lap steel to Get Down River and some baritone guitar later in the set.

Taking a cue from Neil Young, the Bottle Rockets decided to play the majority of their new album during the set. As Henneman stated, “I loved hearing songs live and when the new album came out being like ‘I remember that song.’ It was a cool moment, so that’s what we’re doing, providing you with a cool moment in the future.”

Lucky Break, a tale of a blue collar worker breaking his leg and getting a break from work while on Worker’s Compensation, added a nice addition to Henneman’s history of tales about everyday struggling workers and their quest to find a small paradise.

Surprisingly, the people who made it out to the club wasted no time dancing and cheering along as the band played these unfamiliar songs. Somehow the band was able to make these new offerings feel as comfortable as anything they’ve ever written, which isn’t easy to do.

Of course classics rolled out during the set. Songs like Kerosene, Smokin’ 100s Alone and When I Was Dumb got plenty of backup vocals from the audience, who exerted just as much energy for these favorites as they did for the new songs.

Like a quality rock band of days past, as the set progressed, the band became looser, more willing to extend solos and improvise. Bassist Robert Kearns, who now resides in Austin, TX, took his backing vocals to the front of the stage for a smoking Doug Sahm cover, Lawd, I’m Just a Country Boy.

The Bottle Rockets pull off the Sahm classics better than any local artist I’ve ever seen. Their set-closing version of Sahm’s She’s About a Mover smoked.

The band blew away those willing to stay out into the wee morning hours for over two hours of rock n’ roll with their blend of rock, folk and country. The length of set showed the tightness and talent of the band as Horton worked his way through songs he had yet to learn without any mistakes to the untrained ear.

With the October release of Blue Skies, the band is set to hit the road again, this time covering more ground. No matter what excuse you had to miss this show, there is nothing you can say to get out of the next one, be there.