I didn't really know so much about Ike Reilly Assassination before last Thursday, vague memory of a few reviews over the years, and a little listen on the myspace. He had one of his bigger fans playing with him on this night too: Johnny Hickman, who you might recognize as the guy who's been playing with David Lowery over the past number of years in Cracker. Ike Reilly brought in a fair sized crowd for the Larimer Lounge, not too crowded but filled up and enthusiastic. Hickman described Reilly as the "one of the greatest songwriters around these days," but I think I'd concur more with Joe Sampson and describe what I heard as more of "a really good rock n roll band." Definitely good, but not as cutting edge or original as that songwriter claim had me set up for. No undiscovered paths to cut through, but a nice ride down a smooth and familiar highway. But then the Ike Reilly Assassination was following a performance of what I consider to be a singular talent: Bad Weather California.
I can count on one hand the number of bands that I start to miss if I haven't seen them in a while. And I like hearing live music. When it's good, it makes me feel alive. When it's mediocre, it's still better than television most nights. But the bands I itch to see are the few that go above giving a good performance, they affirm that Music Matters. Not that I need convincing, it's just like the faithful going to church, but it feels good.
Bad Weather California is one of those Denver bands that I keep an eye out for when they are playing. They have always made me feel it...that music matters. To hear Chris Adolf sing his songs is to know that this songwriter is for real. This is subjective judgment, yes, but it's one of those things that you know when you see it.
Though Chris has been making music for years, I first heard him only about a year ago. It was at the 2006 Post UMS. He was playing an afternoon solo set at Mutiny Now. The sun was bright shining in the window, it was hot outside and I think Nathaniel Rateliff and Joe Sampson had just finished playing some songs. Chris sat down with a guitar and a handful of papers with lyrics which ended up falling off his lap in the excitement of delivering his songs. It took near to the end of the first song to realize I had been holding my breath. I was so astonished I forgot to breathe. It wasn't long before I got my hands on The Love Letter Band cd. And it's one of my favorites.
Since then I've seen Chris perform with a variety of arrangements, from solo to full bands with a rotating cast of talented friends. You never knew what to expect, except that it has always been good. But lately Bad Weather California looks like it has settled into a regular lineup of Joe Sampson on bass, Adam Baumeister on pedal steel and on drums, agh, I keep forgetting his name [just checked, yes his name is Xandy Whitesel, (sorry Xandy)] and sometimes Nathaniel on guitar too. It sounds very good. Still a textured variety of sounds, xylophones, recorders, rhythms on a loop pedal but with a consistent structure of players to build up from. I, for one, can't hardly wait for the next show.