Slaid Cleaves- Red Deer, October 29, 2010   Leave a comment


Slaid Cleaves pulled into Red Deer this evening for a gig at The Matchbox, making his area debut. Currently at the tail end of a brief Alberta tour, which finds him in Calgary on Saturday night, Cleaves was in excellent voice accompanied by guitarist Michael O’Conner.

Cleaves’ first set passed in a blink although I trust it was close to 40-minutes. Largely exploring Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away, Cleaves and O’Connor ran through seven or eight tunes including “Hard to Believe,” “Tumblewood Stew,” and “Dreams.” Familiar favourites like “Horse Shoe Lounge” and “Drinkin’ Days” were also featured.

Not being familiar with O’Connor, both my father-in-law and I were impressed by his stringbending; he made the production of exquisite sounds appear effortless. We both found it was difficult at times to hear Cleaves during the first set as O’Connor’s touches overwhelmed Cleaves’ voice. This difficulty was remedied by the time the second set kicked off.

Kicking off the second set with “Wishbones” and “Broke Down,” Cleaves notched things up a bit for several minutes. He fulfilled a request for “Everette,” Steve Brooks’ word-perfect song from Unsung, definitely a highlight of the evening and “Borderline.” Don Walser’s “Rolling Stone From Texas” was equally impressive for different reasons; while I truly feel yodeling is no part of nuthin’, Cleaves demonstrated that he can nail it when called upon and made the performance enjoyable. “Horses” was another high point.

Cleaves sprinkled into the show a couple songs I hadn’t heard before, although their titles have slipped my mind. O’Connor performed one of his songs as well, the well-received “Bernadine.” Cleaves and O’Connor closed the performance with a performance of a gospel tune, perhaps called “Go for the Gold.” Referencing the Snuffy Smith/Sneezy Waters movie Hank Williams, The Show He Never Gave as inspiration, the song truly had the feeling of one of those songs one might have heard during a Mother’sBest broadcast.

A really nice, if brief, evening of music. With a 7:30 start scheduled, we were on the way home by 9:40; with that much evening left ahead of us, I know we both would have enjoyed more music from Cleaves’ timeless Broke Down album; “Breakfast in Hell” would have done it, although it was a treat to hear “One Good Year.”

Slaid hits the east coast next; with a keen wit, humourous, informative but not overly long song introductions, an easy going manner, and a terrific way with a song, a Slaid Cleaves show is highly recommended.

And I’ll note, posted here within an hour of the show’s finish! I may not be good, but I am fast. Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee- Donald

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