My friend Andrew and I made it out to the Springville Fun Days show with Bo Ramsey and the 100s opening for Dallas Moore. The deal we made with our wives was that we’d be home early and we figured we’d be able to get Bo and the 100s in before 8 or 8:30PM. We weren’t familiar with Dallas Moore– although we’d heard that he was pretty good. I listened to a couple of things on his site and decided I wasn’t really into it.
The day was sunny and pretty hot– in the 90s and we’d considered skipping if the heat was too much. The location of the show was a small tree-lined valley next to a stream and in the late afternoon the hill was protected from the heat. I felt pretty bad about the bands, however as they faced the hot setting sun while they played. There was beer to be bought with tickets so we split $20 of them.
After a quick setup and soundcheck the 100s started around 4:30PM. I hadn’t seen them before, but had heard their 2005 CD Take the Gravel Home so I was familiar with a couple of their songs. The 100s put on an energetic set filled with folky-Americana tunes– most coming from their album but they peppered a handful of very well-selected covers. The first cover I remember is a John Hiatt song– one of my favorites and one that makes me chuckle as it is one of John’s funny tunes– “Ethylene” from the landmark Walk On album. They also did the rockin’ “Castanets” by Alejandro Escovedo (“I like her better when she walks away”). They also surprised me with an uncredited cover of “King’s Highway” from Joe Henry. I recognized it as soon as they played the intro, but I couldn’t believe that they would do that one. They also covered “My Sweet Annette” by the Drive By Truckers. In a lot of ways they played a set that was a pretty good primer for the current state of Americana. I like that they seem to play covers that they enjoy and fit their style of music. I’d like to see them again in the near future.
The arrangement of the stage was a bit odd as the crowd was separated from the stage by the dirt strip used for the tractor pulls. It was very convenient– if a bit conspicuous– for picture taking. Periodically I’d dash out onto the track to snap some pictures. After the 100s sets I was approached by a woman who asked if I was with a paper– I explained that I wasn’t and told her about this site. She asked for a couple of cards and gave one to Dave Pedersen the lead singer. After I posted the pictures to flickr, he contacted me and we exchanged a couple of nice emails about their set and he hooked me up with a copy of their album.
Next up was Bo Ramsey along with his band, which included Jim Viner and Nate Basinger from the Diplomats of Solid Sound! Nate played with Bo when I saw him last year in Dubuque and I know that Jim has played with Bo in the past as well but it’s alway cool to see some Iowa City solidarity in action. The bass player was a guy from Madison named Jon Penner.
Bo brought a collection of guitars including a sunburst Telecaster modified with DiMarzio Virtual Series pickups, a sunburst Stratocaster, a vintage Silvertone, a Reverend Flatroc with a Bigsby vibrato, and a 12-string Jerry Jones Danelectro copy. Nate brought his B-3 organ and had assistance from a skidloader to lift it to the stage!
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a big crowd there on this warm late afternoon to see Bo and Band bring his unique style of country blues. We were treated to an uncharacteristically talkative Bo that afternoon. Before he played his cover of Jesse Mae Hemphill’s “Jump, Baby Jump” from last year’s Stranger Blues, he talked about how he was fortunate to have had a chance to work with her before she passed away which was filmed by Wim Winders and subsequently used in the Martin Scorsese Blues series. I remember watching that series and being surprised to see Bo with Lucinda on it. Bo also talked about the actual bar referenced in “Sidetrack Lounge.” Apparently there is an actual bar across the river from Burlington, IA in a little town called Gulf Port.
Quite a bit of the set was the same as when I saw him last year in Dubuque– mostly tracks from Stranger Blues and In The Weeds, as well as “classic” Bo songs like “Long Long Time” and “Get Away.” He also did the old Sliders tune “Rockinitis” which he credited to JJ Cale.
Bo and his band played a fantastic set with Bo smiling a lot and really getting into the set. I liked the interplay between Bo and Nate trading off solos. We were treated to a couple of the excellent trippy extended guitar solos that reminded me of the days following him around Eastern Iowa in the early 90’s. I could see the guys from the Dallas Moore band off to the left of the stage watching intently.
Andrew and I left before we could see any of the Dallas Moore show, but left happy to have seen these two acts put on a great show.
Bo is working on a new album that might be released this Fall. I hope this means that we’ll get to see more solo shows from him.