Last night my buddy Mikey and I drove out to Wakefield to see Tom Wilson's latest creation, Lee Harvey Osmond. Technically speaking the touring band consists of a rotating set of members pulled from the list on the inside cover of the new CD "A Quiet Evil". Helping to create this album Tom pulled together a rather impressive gaggle of talent with members from the Cowboy Junkies (Michael, Margo, and Peter Timmons), the Skydiggers, Junkhouse/Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, Huron, Suzie Vinnick, Colin Linden,... you get the idea.
The night started with a huge line-up at the closed door. Mikey and I had hoped to score a seat and stupidly thought that arriving over an hour before ticket time would be sufficient. It was not. This Thursday night gig was not going unnoticed by the Black Sheep regulars. It was sold out.
Opening the evening was Justin Townes Earle (son of Steve, albeit raised by his mother -- which btw provided some funny between song banter). Hailing from Nashville, TN Justin warmed up the house to a mixture of folk, honky tonk, and a taste of country while his side kick Charlie played a mean mandolin and blew what may have well been the best harp I've ever heard. Check out the track "Halfway to Jackson" on his latest CD - even keeping in mind that live rocks while studio only rolls, the train/harmonica leads are smoking.
When Lee Harvey Osmond finally took the stage the crowd was more than ready. According to Tom himself he was one grumpy bastard upon arriving having just spend a dozen odd hours in the back of a minivan. But hearing Justin play the opening set made him "real happy". Thankfully too, as we the audience were the benefactors.
At one point in the night, Tom dropped word that he is working on a new CD with Blackie & the Rodeo Kings to be titled "Kings and Queens". Aside from the standard Blackie members, Colin Linden, Stephen Fearing, and Tom Wilson they have been teaming up with various female artists. There was no name dropping but I'll go out on a limb here and mention Margo and Suzie. Regardless it sounds like a recipe for awesome. Looking forward to it.
As the night wore on it become more and more apparent that Tom was really enjoying himself. At one point he jumped to stage left away from the mic and started belting out the song John Henry (or at least a version of). As you can well imagine Tom had no problem making his voice carry in such a small room. Powerful - a very effective way to kick things up a notch.
By night's end there were a couple of standing O's and even one unexpected encore (Tom had to quickly teach some the of the band a new track to play). By now he had everybody on their feet throwing a glow with lighters and cellphones while they rocked out to Mott the Hoople's Sweet Jane. A great end to a great night. I still had to get up early next morning, but definitely no regrets.
Here are a couple of youtube videos from Lee Harvey Osmond, Queen Bee and Every Blade of Grass. Enjoy.