If there was ever any question about the strength of Hayes Carll’s connection to the natural state (the Texas native and Hendrix graduate has drawn the ire of some in this space) they were dispelled last night. Carll and his band, who he introduced as the Gulf Coast Orchestra, took a rowdy and St. Paddy’s-beer-special-fueled crowd on a good-time, honky-tonkin’ journey last night. Carll started off by introducing himself and his band, then launching into a rip-roaring version of “Faulkner Street,” throwing the Arkansawyers a bone with the opening line: “The record player’s scratchin’ out an old and dusty tune, On the front porch, on a Sunday, on an Arky afternoon.”
From there the hits just kept on coming. Carll hit all the favorites from his catalog, including tunes from his albums “Little Rock,” “Trouble in Mind” and his latest, “KMAG YOYO.” If there were any skeptics in the crowd last night – and there didn’t appear to be many – they were hooked by the time the band played the rabble-rousing “Stomp and Holler,” and part of the downright adoring mob by the end of Subterranean Homesick Blues-esque “KMAG YOYO.” The crowd raised their bottles to a number of sing-along tunes: “Hard Out Here,” “Wild as a Turkey,” “Bad Liver and a Broken Heart,” and “It’s a Shame.”
One of the things we’ve always like about Carll is his good ol’ Texas boy liberalism that’s fairly rare from the country singer-songwriter set, but is alive and well in the likes of James McMurtry and Steve Earle. Before playing the title track from his latest record, a military acronym for “Kiss my ass guys, you’re on your own” – a trippy tune about a soldier who gets sucked into the military industrial complex – Carll told the crowd that it was time to bring our troops home.
One of the opening bands, HoneyHoney, couldn’t make it to the show last night, but that just gave John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives a little more time to get everybody going (If you haven’t seen this band yet, do). Keith, an excellent guitar player, wowed the audience with his blistering fretwork and sweet, melodic tunes. Kudos to the Rev Room for making it all happen and rounding out a great week of music in Little Rock.