craig bickhardt at landhaven in barto, pa

i’m relatively certain that i’ve spoken about landhaven here before – i’ve had the privelege of playing there a few times, with idlewheel and dan may, but tonight was a solo show with craig bickhardt, backed by the venerable “tommys” – tommy geddes and myself.

with craig bickhardt at landhaven
with craig bickhardt at landhaven

the significance of this particular night was that it was the first live show craig had played since officially receiving copies of his new record, brother to the wind. this was also the first show i’d participated in since that amazing steel city show that we did with j d malone. that show represented a certain amount of vindication for me, since i’d had a handful of pretty piss-poor outings behind craig in the not-too-distant past…and i was hoping to keep the short streak going with this show.

also, i wanted to explore heavier use of the dobro for the slide-oriented songs – i think i’d discussed that earlier, but i just felt as though the lap steel through the amp hasn’t been serving craigs’ songs as well as the dobro would.

and if i needed any proof, i’d get it during the set that night. “donald and june” and “lord franklin” really came to life with the dobro. i used it on “a day well spent”, too – because apparently i brought a little extra bravado with me – and while i think the idea was solid, the execution…well, not so much so. i think i could come up with a great part for it, though, if i sit down with it and shed through it a few times. it’s one of those deals where it’s too much to try to replicate the guitar riff that carries the song, but maybe too lazy sounding to just try to muck around underneath it.

on dobro with CB at landhaven
on dobro with CB at landhaven

if i had to dig for a negative for the night, though, that’d be it – craig was phenomenal, we had a great crowd, new craig bickhardt CD’s were flyin’ off the shelves…we opened with gordon lightfoot’s song for a winter’s night, which we’d never played before…but we fell right into it at soundcheck, and it sounded pretty tight at showtime. in fact, the first two or three songs kinda set the bar for the rest of the show, and you could feel it onstage – in the way that getting a solid jump on the other runners in a footrace lets you pace yourself as such, as opposed to having your options limited to “catch up or else”. it definitely feels good to knock a couple out of the park when you step up to the plate – you can relax and turn your brain off and just play in a way that you can’t if you have trouble getting into a groove.

this was two in a row…i hope we can keep it up through some of the shows we have this summer – there’s some great stuff on the horizon.

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