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Jolie Holland - East End Gallery, Chicago

There's a first time for everything. And this was my first time seeing a concert in a gallery -- or a gallery space, to be more precise. The folks from the Empty Bottle, who promoted the show, made an effort to help solve the acoustic problems of putting on a show in a loft by putting up the equivalent of a tent roof inside the space. No doubt this helped somewhat, but Jolie Holland nevertheless stopped midway through her second number to adjust her reverb, likening the experience to playing in a goldfish bowl. On the upside, the audience could sit on the hardwood floor and relax without the fear of getting something toxic or infectious on oneself that would be present at most any club in Chicago.
The venue also made for an intimate show. For example, after performing "(Give Me That) Old-Fashoined Morphine," she asked whether everyone would like to hear about the one time she took morphine (of course, everyone did). She had taken the Greyhound bus from her current home in San Francisco to her birth home in Texas, to visit her father, who was dying of cancer. The morphine had been part of his treatment, as addiction was obviously not an issue. Jolie "borrowed" a dose for the three-day return bus trip. After taking the pill on the second day, she began playing gin with a man who turned out to be Willie Nelson's bus driver and getting lots of dish about Willie. They then found out that a bunch of folks on the bus were in a gospel choir that was going to a sining competition in Oakland. Jolie got out her guitar, and a concert broke out. And unfortunately for you, that story plays better told in Holland's molasses-thick Texas accent.
Tech troubles aside, Jolie Holland played a charming if somewhat brief set, backed only by a second guitar and a tiny drum set. The set featured songs from her major-label debut, Escondido, along with numbers from her prior disc, Catalpa, which you can hear here. She also payed homage to pioneers by covering songs by Riley Puckett and Gram Parsons.

Added:  Monday, August 02, 2004
Reviewer:  KB
hits: 5775
Language: eng


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