Written by Daniel Barker
Jul 24, 2010 at 07:30 PM
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The perpetually touring Hayes Carll had made his way back to Texas and got a gig at his Houston home away from home, McGonigel’s Muck Duck, on this Saturday night July 24th, 2010 – a night where HMR was covering 4 gigs!!!! The sixth generation Texan was facing the question on the mind of every Hayeshead – “When’s the new album coming out dude?” The details are vague on the highly anticipated follow up to the April 2008 critically acclaimed “Trouble in Mind” but tonight would prove that Mr. Carll’s pen had not laid idle the last two years. HC banged out 7 original unrecorded songs – over 1/3 of the total set. All while backed by a smaller stripped down band – plus a new bassist and minus a guitarist…Always the entertainer, Hayes Carll was in solid form and put on a great show this night.

The lineup on stage this night consisted of Hayes Carll – guitar, harmonica, vocal; Scott Davis-guitar, keys, banjo, lap steel; Kenny Smith-drums and Bonnie Whitmore-bass, vocal. The additional space has given Scott Davis a chance to really expand. He was impressive tonight on everything he drug out – which was a lot. I am particularly excited about the addition of Bonnie Whitmore who I fell in love with when she played with Mando Saenz. She complimented HC with good harmony all night and even shared a duet with the drunken poet. She also opened this night supporting a solo effort, “Picking Up Pieces”. I imagine there is some conflict but I hope Hayes can get her full time.

I have to admit that I had a little of the red ass with HC earlier this year with the announcement that The Stingaree Music Festival was cancelled this year due to lack of infrastructure. An event in my hometown of Crystal Beach, Texas that HC organizes each year to bring some of the best singer-songwriters together for a weekend. Many of the proceeds had benefitted the area in particularly last year – Post-Ike. HC spent several years living in the area before his career took off after making an impression on the likes of Sisters Morales and Ray Wylie Hubbard at Wrecks Bell’s Old Quarter Acoustic Café in Galveston, Texas. That in addition to the fact his last flash thru the Houston area was limited and mid-week. Despite these things, I wanted to see where Hayes is musically amidst reports of set list monotony and vocal degradation.

After Bonnie Whitmore finished her 15 minute opening set, HC made his way thru the front door, said hi to his family and got on stage. Opening with a new number “Hard Out Here” playing right to his strengths early, telling road stories during the breakdown between choruses. HC looked tanned and rested and his voice was solid. It wasn’t too long before Hayes thanked BW for opening up prior to the pair of misfits kicking off into another new song, the duet “Seen Another Like You” about two lovers with opposing political philosophies. A great number for these polarized times. There were some new jokes with the addition of a female which made for fresh humor. Scott Davis controlled his sound nicely. He is more of an accompanist than anything else. The many, many hours SD, HC and KS have spent on stage are evident and BW just blends right in.

The balance of the new songs all proved to be nice pieces of work, “Chances Are”, “Hide Me Baby” were right on point for Hates. A tribute to his fellow Ego Brother, John Evans, titled “Stomp & Hollar” had the crowd tapping their toes. The Duck was geared up tonight for 2 SRO shows with the placed packed like always for Woodlands native.  I will always recommend to someone interested in Hayes Carll to catch him at this venue. I find it is where he is at his best. The solo encore of “Live Free Or Die” is what Hayes is all about.

The Set List this night included:
1. Hard Out There
2. Wild As A Turkey
3. Seen Another Like You
4. Beaumont
5. Drunken Poet’s Dream
6. Girl Downtown
7. I Got A Gig
8. Chances Are
9. Wild People
10. I Don’t Wanna Grow Up
11. Learn Your Name
12. Bad Liver & A Broken Heart
13. Little Rock
14. Knockin’ Over Whiskies
15. Stomp & Hollar
16. Wish I Hadn’t Stayed So Long
17. Hide Me Babe
18. Live Free or Die

After the show, I found myself optimistic regarding the prospects of the new album. I hope it can capture some of the comfort and warmth of this night. Hayes Carll will be taping his very first appearance on Austin City Limits on August 4th with Robert Earl Keen to be aired in the 2010 fall season. We wish him all the best. It looks like the move to Austin is paying off on many levels. Until next time, I will see you out supporting live music.