Show Review: David Lowery and Johnny Hickman Live on Java Blend 5/27/11

Ben Kieffer, David Lowery & Johnny Hickman
In the middle of a run of dates with Cracker and some shows as Cracker Acoustic Duo, Lowery and Hickman managed to sneak in a Daytrotter session and a performance at The Redstone Room in Davenport as well as a Java Blend show in support of Lowery’s first solo album The Palace Guards. Erik and I got to Iowa City well ahead of the 1:30 start time to grab some Jimmy John’s for lunch and stake a good vantage point for the show. I didn’t think that the taping would be a full room since it is in the afternoon, but I didn’t want to take a chance.

The show almost didn’t happen! The guys got to town in their Suburban and towed gear trailer and couldn’t find a place to park near the venue. After a few frustrated laps around Iowa City’s one-way streets they managed to find a temporary spot big enough for them to load in and then they ended up taking their stuff over to the IPR station, so the taping got off to a late start, but for the devoted who stuck around, they were treated to one of the best performances I’ve seen in the series.

Typical Java Blend shows are around an hour and the taping takes a little longer than that. While these are live performances, they aren’t aired live so the artists can have false starts and IPR can choose to edit things if they want. According to the show page, this taping will air on the weekend of June 17th and the video also show up on UITV that week and later in re-runs.


With both Lowery and Hickman performing, it was more like a Cracker Acoustic Duo show than a solo Lowery show, but this made it all the more fun. I didn’t realize that Hickman was going to be there– Erik and I were joking that we were going to request that Lowery perform the buddy duet “Friends” solo, which meant he had to play both parts! As it was, we got a duet with Lowery and Hickman doing it, so that was really great and reminded me of when I saw the Duo play the Mill Restaurant in November of 2005.

The show featured a few songs from Lowery’s new album and a bunch from Cracker plus a nice Camper Van Beethoven nugget. Kieffer did his usual great job coaxing some stories from Lowery– which, although the music portion of the show was amazing, these stories from Lowery were funny, detailed and a little bit on the rambling side. Lowery warned Kieffer that he feels compelled to answer every question completely, and we got complete answers from a variety of topics ranging from the mathematics to stock trading! “You can edit some of this out,” Lowery said after a particularly deep dive. The interviews remind me of how well-spoken and smart Lowery is and how much I enjoy following his blog 300 Songs, which I recommend anyone follow.


The music performance was great as you’d expect from two guys that have been performing together since the late 80’s. Hickman’s electric guitar serves capably in the role of the missing rest of the instruments on these stripped-down arrangement. Hickman is the consummate sideman for Lowery– great guitar solos and ambience to accompany Lowery’s lead vocals and classical nylon string guitar. While it’s Patterson Hood who duets on “Friends” on Cracker’s last album Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey, every time I’ve ever heard it live it is Lowery and Hickman and that is how I always hear it in my head.

Well I’ve got the dirt on you.
Hey, I’ve got plenty on you too;
So I pray we stay together all our days.

One of the great buddy songs since “Poncho and Lefty” in my opinion.


I Sold the Arabs The Moon
Raise ‘Em Up On Honey
All Her Favorite Fruit (CVB)
Around the World (Cracker)
Deep Oblivion
Dr. Bernice (Cracker)
The Palace Guards
Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now) (Cracker)
Friends (Cracker)

One thought on “Show Review: David Lowery and Johnny Hickman Live on Java Blend 5/27/11

  1. Pingback: B-Sides in the Bins #55 – Around Memorial Day Weekend 2011 « Time to play b-sides

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