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[whitespace] Gillian Welch

The Rock Show

Gillian's Island

By Mike Connor

ALTHOUGH A knife-toting Marlon Brando never jumped out from beneath a table in a loincloth and face paint ready to gut us all like pigs, the audience/savages at the Gillian Welch show at the Catalyst temporarily lost their manners as they scrambled for seats last Wednesday.

Not quite prepared for a sit-down show, the staff at the Catalyst began hauling out chairs into the middle of the already assembled crowd when all middle-class hell broke loose. The crowd hovered as the sought-after seats were hastily claimed by the quickest, most aggressive butts. Luckily, I have a powerful backside which I thrashed about wildly, thus opening up a path to precious seats for me and my friends. Suspicious of everyone, I steeled myself against pleas to give up our seats for pregnant women and their friends with recent knee/ankle/foot surgery. To use Gillian's words, "the devil had a hold of me."

Once the show started, though, Welch and her partner David Rawlings charmed the ruthlessness right back out of us--cute as buttons both, they were. Welch wore a flowery sundress with big black cowboy boots to stamp out the time, while Rawlings (dressed in his usual tieless suit) rocked out full tilt with his face in all sorts of knots, looking like maybe he'd played guitar for Winger back in the day. Rawlings proved beyond reasonable doubt that he is a baby-faced wild man. He looked like a life-size collapsible doll, flat-picking folk guitar-hero solos while thrashing his body atop firmly planted legs. It's no wonder their music never gets too melancholy even when it's creeping along like a haunted, motherless snail; it's because Rawlings becomes a happy 8-year-old when he really gets going. Opening up with "Tear My Stillhouse Down," Welch and Rawlings played two long and beautiful sets of flawless originals, with a few covers mixed in. For the most part they stuck to the clean album versions of their songs, changing it up a bit with new guitar solos and altered lyrics on "I'm Not Afraid to Die," which they recently recorded with Willie Nelson. After their encore, everyone filed out happy in a calm and orderly fashion. Apparently all of our sins from earlier in the evening were forgiven.

Battle of the Bands Briefing

Rock Wars is well under way at the Aptos Club. (Mostly) local bands have been duking it out in three's every Friday night since April 26, with shows still coming up on July 5 and 12. All of the winners will advance to the finals at the Catalyst on July 19 and 20 (rest assured, young 'uns--the finals are both 16-and-over shows.) Thus far the winners are ... (drum roll, please?) ... Entragian, The End, The Unknown, Gorilla Finger, Expendables, Moonshine Bandits, MLX and Phicus, plus three more bands yet to be determined by you and your fellow Santa Cruzers.

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From the July 3-10, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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