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HPPR Arts, Culture & History

Music for the Thinkin' Man: Corb Lund, Live in Amarillo

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On assignment from High Plains Public Radio's Music Director, Jenny Inzerillo, I was asked to stand in as a reporter for the Corb Lund show at Hoot’s Pub in Amarillo on Friday night. Since my date couldn’t make it, I brought along a philosopher. (It’s a strategy for seeing Corb Lund that I would highly recommend.)

Early on in the set, Lund asked the crowd how many had previously attended one of his live shows; I’d say it was about one in four. While most of us were not able to join in on the enthusiastic hollers and hoots (pun intended) of recognition as he cued up his older tunes, we felt welcome within his loyal fan base, all of whom danced and sang along loudly. Regardless of being first timers to the Corb Lund live-show family, the band quickly and decisively won over everyone in the crowd.

Despite the geographic distance from his native Alberta, Canada, Lund spoke to his audience with the genuine comfort of a native, though he did not shy away from reminding us how many states we would need to cross to merely gaze onto his northerly homeland.  The familiarity of oil fields, the love of horses, the complexity of cattle, the pure pleasure of sincerely good boots, and the tragic dearth of contemporary western music peppered his inter-lyrical banter.

The accompanying band, whom he referred to as The Hurtin' Albertans, were impressive in both their musicianship and their eclectic range; I was especially awed by Lund's long-time guitar player Grant Siemens who seamlessly transitioned between steel and electric guitar (and occasionally mandolin), spanning styles that ranged from pure, twangy, old-time Western to Metallica-worthy riffs and even some strong whiffs of reggae.

Lund has a new album to be released next month, Agricultural Tragic, and he showcased a few new tracks for the audience that night, including "Old Man," "Ranchin', Ridin', Romance," and "90 Seconds of Your Time," among others. He also pulled out some old favorites so his Amarilloan fan base could croon along: "Shine up my Boots," "Bible on the Dash," "Cows Around," "I Wanna Be in the Cavalry," "Dig, Gravedigger, Dig," and "Gettin' Down on the Mountain," among many others. They also did a few classic covers, including an impressive rendition of Willie Nelson’s "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys."

As we left, my friend the philosopher voiced his assessment: "Well, he won that argument. He spoke and sang to his audience, without an ounce of pandering. They were already his before he walked on the stage; they just didn’t know it.”