I’m sorry, Hideout, for taking so long to make it to one of your shows. I’ve been full of excuses, like “if I miss the last bus, there are no taxis out there to get me home” and “the area’s sort of sketchy and once I saw people doing a drug deal in front of one of the also-sketchy warehouses” and “I’ve been sick for the past four months”. (Okay, that last one is actually pretty valid; I’m sure that all Hideout patrons should thank me for not giving them the cold that I fought on and off from about November to February.)
I picked a great night to make it to my inaugural Hideout event, however. I’ve been a long-time fan of Austin-based folk singer Eliza Gilkyson, and while I wasn’t too familiar with Robbie Fulks’ music, I’d been hearing nothing but rave reviews from his series of Monday night shows at the Hideout. So finding out that the two of them were playing together, particularly after I’d just missed a solo show by Eliza the night before, meant that I finally decided to suck it up and make it out to the little industrial section of town that the Hideout, erm, hides away in.
Robbie and Eliza, accompanied on this night by another guitarist (on electric) named Robert (whose last name I didn’t get), traded songs back and forth, with each helping out with guitar and backing vocals on the other’s songs. The whole night had the feeling of being in someone’s living room, listening to people joke and tell stories and reminisce. It was a very comfortable sort of evening, the kind where you feel like everyone’s old friends.
Eliza Gilkyson’s voice is one of my favorites in all of folk music, rich and warm, one of those voices that just sort of wraps you up in it, no matter what she’s saying. In a heartbeat, she can switch from singing heartfelt ballads about the plight of migrant workers, to cutting commentary on contemporary organized religion, to a quirky, profanity-laced look at always falling for the wrong kind of guy. Her songs are both touching and thought provoking. Selections included “Wildwood Spring”, “Twisted”, “Borderline”, “Calm Before the Storm”, and “The Great Correction”.
But most people were there to see Robbie Fulks, and with good reason. Being mostly unfamiliar with his music, I didn’t entirely know what to expect. What I got was the experience of listening to one of the best guitar players I’ve ever heard, honestly. There were a lot of times where I just found myself staring at his hands, wondering exactly how he was making all of those sounds. “Play something, Robert,” Robbie quipped at one point as Robert-the-electric-guitarist. “What?” Robert countered with, “you’re playing everything already.” His songs have a wry sense of humor about them, the kinds of songs that may catch you off-guard if you’re only half-paying attention to the words. Robbie’s song selections included “Let’s Kill Saturday Night”, “Cigarette State”, and a pitch perfect George Jones cover.
Check out my handful of photos from the event on Flickr. If you’ve got some spare time on a Monday night, head on over to the Hideout and catch a show from Robbie Fulks. No matter what the night’s theme — cover songs, duelling banjos, classic country, you name it — I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be in for a treat.