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Dixie Chicks, Augustana, and Smooth Hound Smith
Irvine Meadows / July 20, 2016
by: James Carroll

Here we go again with free concerts. “What’s with these free concerts?” you might ask. Well, if I told then they wouldn’t be free, would they? Yes, they would still be free. So I sees the Dixie Chicks I did. But, before I saw the famous country female trio, I was also introduced to a few other acts which I will describe first. “Smooth Hound Smith” leads off the night, a duo hailing from Nashville, Tennessee plays in the vein of mono man guitarist plus kick drum accompanied by beautiful female vocalist/percussionista. Umm… here’s where it gets thick. I swear when they launched in with sparse sound, metal guitar country lickin’, glass tube thingy bending and stretching sound, a beaut backup vocalist, golden curled locks, a symphony of velvet audio teasing my senses, I struggled to hold back the tears. The whole set wrecked me. In a way I can’t explain, only that it was good hurt. You ever lived one of those lives where you struggle to find joy, and then suddenly it just wrecks a hole through your guy. Ya, kind of like that.

So of course the opener over shadowed who was to follow, “Augustana”, an eccentric voice, melodious lyrical waves didn’t quite cut into me. Maybe it was the mixing, but I suspect its more because the intimacy was lost amongst a crowded stage of 5 or 6. So again, 9pm rolls around as the chix make their appearance. As I was to find, more of a singer songwriter driven act, but nevertheless backed by enough musical firepower to signal an appreciation for the finer musical gestures. They payed tribute to Prince with a cover of Sinead O’Connors “Nothing Compares”? Well anyway, it was a very heartfelt vocal performance, equals parts skillful.

I’ve never known to be hearing a Dixie Chicks song, but all the themes one would suspect country musicians delve into were there. Empty plains, buckaroo horse riding. I quite enjoyed their backwoods hoe down tracks. Made me want to pick up my boots and spin a little. One song about her daddy I found to be particularly sweet. The LED backdrop played theme upon theme upon theme. Horses, waterfalls, the empty highway, the city skylines. It was a crowd of very happy women, and kick back men. I felt the estrogen level in there sky high and began to think, maybe peace is possible.



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