Written by Daniel Barker
Aug 15, 2009 at 07:00 PM
ImageOn a great night for live music everywhere in the Houston area, there was no place better to be on August 15th, 2009 than at the Almost Austin House Concert Series in Pasadena, Texas for a splendid song swap with Adam Carroll and Matt Harlan. HMR had this date circled for quite some time and with good reason as the tried and true Adam Carroll was pairing up with the rising up and comer who seems to have the Midas touch of late, Matt Harlan. The two Texas boys shared a night of story and song to an audience that was truly there for the music. Kenny Pipes pulled no punches to have a packed house amidst so much competition and HMR walked away knowing that the Pope of Pasadena scored another knock out in the 2009 series…

These two artists are skilled craftsman in the art of folk songwriting. They combine pure poetry, unpretentious vocals, and passionate picking to paint portraits and tell stories of the world they feel and see. Often funny and sometimes sad, this night was a biopsy of what HMR has come to love about the genre. Matt Harlan stuck mainly to originals off his up and coming release “Tips and Compliments” which was available for sale this night in the ultramodern form of a redeemable download card. Adam Carroll brought in a range of songs he has picked up along the way like Sinbad’s souvenirs to show and tale…Adam is still touring behind “Old Towne Rock N Roll” but was discussing an upcoming release of new material. The Guild guitar wielding duo played two sets, each a little over an hour and was gracious enough to interact with their fans before, after and in between…Always a nice perk here at AAS…

Thankfully for us, the twosome had played the night before down at Wrecks Bell’s Old Quarter in Galveston and it seemed they had grown fairly comfortable together. The crowd seemed to have surprised both of them, not only in a packed room but in knowledge and enthusiasm. A true double bill as people would have come to see either solo but together proved to be a no brainer.
Adam Carroll came roaring out of the San Marcos college scene labeled as the next Robert Earl Keen with much help from the legendary Lloyd Maines. Sticking to his traveling singer songwriter life he has written with or for many talented artists over the years as was proved tonight. Playing songs associated with the likes of Hayes Carll, Michael O’Conner, Mark Jungers, The Band of Heathen’s Gordy Quist, Slaid Cleaves, Scott Nolan, Roger Marin, etc…Maybe not the most common names on Clear Channel but the heart of the modern singer-songwriter movement without a doubt.

ImageMatt Harlan has been everywhere as of late more than likely due to his work ethic. He is an active member in The Front Porch Society, a guitarist in the band Country Store Buffalo and foremost with his promising solo career which has lead to songwriting awards and a great deal of buzz in the Americana movement. With MH’s polished picking skills and rock solid delivery he stood toe for toe with AC all night. It was evident that he had inspired AC to keep it tight. That along with the crowd put AC on top of his game for one of the best nights HMR has seen him perform.

The first set highlights were MH’s “Your Just Drunk” which puts a smile on any drinkers face and a touching “Ricebirds” by AC riddled with his underrated heartbreaking harmonica…However, “Milwaukee’s Best” by AC was the gut buster of the night for the one line wonder with lyrics in his arsenal like “pissin’ on your own grave”, and “rolled pecan logs down a Stuckey’s”. The crowd proved the be the official sound man as adjustments were suggested between songs until the sound was just right…

The second set highlights were AC’s “Dogwood and Blondie” of which he shed some lyrical light that gave the song some deeper meaning for the comic book fan…MH continued to impress with gems like “Walter” written at a songwriters conference and “Mozart”…Again, AC had the house rocking with the Leon Russell inspired “Gypsy Shuffler” where the entire crowd clapped in unison for the entire song…no bullshit…It was a proud moment for AAS. For his encore, AC, still in open tuning from the previous song, played the most fitting “Highway Prayer” which was flat out impressive… MH closed the evening with the personal tragedy tale of “Heavy Steel and Spinning Wheels” written about a hometown friends untimely passing.

The set list for this night was:
1st Set:
1. Half Developed Song – mh
2. Billy Gibbon’s Beard – ac
3. You’re Just Drunk – mh
4. Ricebirds – ac
5. Too Much Going On – mh
6. Dream on – ac
7. Bow and Be Simple – mh
8. Milwaukee’s Best – ac
9. The Easy Road – mh
10. Hi-Fi Love – ac
11. Slow Moving Train – mh
12. Rainin’  – ac
13. Dresses – mh
14. Dirty South – ac

2nd Set:
1. Girl With the Dirty Hair – ac
2. Walter – mh
3. Blondie and Dogwood – ac
4. Skinny Trees in Mississippi – mh
5. Racecar Joe – ac
6. Mozart – mh
7. Black flag Blues – ac
8. Over The Bridge – mh
9. Errol’s Song – ac
10. Waitin’ For Godot – mh
11. Gulf Coast Loser – ac
12. Tips and Compliments – mh
13. Gypsy Shuffler – ac
14. Elevator Ride – mh
15. Highway Song – ac
16. Heavy Steel and Spinnin’ Wheels

HMR can only hope that these two had time to pen some songs with their limited time together. We hope both the best. Always try to catch Adam Carroll when he makes it thru town and go out and support Matt Harlan in his many ventures in and about Houston before he hits the road which is inevitable. Of course, we cannot say enough about Kenny Pipes and Almost Austin…If you have not been yet go ahead a book one. You won’t regret it. If you’ve already been – well keep comin’ back…In the meantime, we will see you out supporting live music.