Written by James Killen
Apr 06, 2013 at 08:00 PM
ImageI wasn’t quite sure what to expect Saturday evening at Kenny Pipes’ house when Barbara and I got to the Chad Elliott show. I had picked up bits and pieces of stuff from YouTube, but really hadn’t done my homework before the show.

After sound check, Chad came out to mingle with the folks enjoying the pot luck supper. He’s a big strapping corn-fed fellow from western Iowa with an easy smile and a laugh that says “Come on over and sit down a while.” Chad, his wife and fifteen year old son live in Coon Rapids, Iowa. He has in the past spent a year in Austin and another year in the San Francisco Bay area. He’s not new on the music scene as he has put out eighteen albums and garnered numerous awards for folk and Americana genres. You would never know it from his humble, down home approach to life.

There’s something warming about an open, what-you-see-is-what-you-get personality and with Chad Elliott it transfers to the stage very naturally. His first song of the night, “Swear I Could” featured a rocking beat, with country hooks and a folk presentation. This great song, like many of the others Chad played on this evening, has not been recorded yet. That tells me that Elliott is an ongoing, productive writer and story teller with a lot to offer music fans for years to come.

The evening’s fare included low key ballads like “Minnesota”, upbeat folk blues like “Get My Walking Shoes On” (featuring some pretty impressive harmonica riffs) and country blues like “Maureen”. The songs were punctuated by stories leading from one tune to the next, like inheriting his great grandfather’s ‘71 Buick and spending the night in a “haunted” cabin in the Ozarks.

The first set featured “Same, Old Way”, the winning song for the 2009 Woody Guthrie song contest and an as yet unrecorded “Headed My Way”, which got a big thumbs up from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s lead vocalist. Chad finished out the set with “Follow the Light”, which Elliott claimed was inspired by Eric Taylor’s song writing. Personally, I didn’t see the influence as the song was very upbeat and did not involve any one dying or defiantly refusing to die.

As impressive as the first set was, the second set put it to shame, kicking off with the “Home Fire Blues” into “The Contender” written for an Iraq war veteran struggling to rejoin society upon rotating back. That was followed by the rousing bar chording of “Wide Open Road” and a crowd pleasing cover of “White Freight Liner Blues”. His song “Long Road” did sound to me like an Eric Taylor tune (I’m a big fan of his as well.) “Blue Bonnets” touched that sadness of a love that was never to be between a Midwest man and a Texas lady. Mr. Elliott closed out the show by banging the chords of “Barns on Fire“  out into the night followed by a cover of Bo Diddly’s “Before You Accuse Me”.

I was so impressed with the evening’s performance that I stood in a rather long line (considering the light attendance) to buy three of his CD’s. I’ve listened to all three now and there are some great productions on them. However, the warmth and enthusiasm of the live show puts his studio work to shame. Rumor has it that Chad will be back in town at Almost Austin next year with back up vocalist, Bonita Crowe. Line up guys, because those tickets will be going fast.