The new recordings by Two Tons of Steel comes as close to a live show as anyone could hope. The dual live CD/DVD were recorded one night in June 2005, the 10th year of the band playing Tuesday nights at the oldest dancehall in Texas, Gruene Hall.
TTOS deliver swinging music that founder, singer, songwriter Kevin Geil likes to call countrybilly. Most are Geil originals. A notable exception is the classic Ramones’ song "Sedated" from 2005’s “Vegas,” which is even more fun live. The recordings are clean and though live, have no distracting background sounds. Watch the footage once or twice for a vicarious experience of the live show, then enjoy the CD with a new appreciation for the band.
The DVD preserves the energy of a live show by a savvy use of editing. Everyone involved wisely realized that watching almost an hour-long video of a band, even a band with presence like Two Tons, isn’t enough for someone sitting in a living room. Ric Ramirez on upright bass looks mostly earnest and focused, but Geil on acoustic guitar and Dennis Fallon on electric guitar manage to boogie respectably. Chris Dudds on drums and Denny Mathis on steel guitar, of course, are stationary.
But the crowd makes up for the narrow confines of the stage. Couples on the floor spin and twirl along with every rockin’ tune. The editing is exciting without being frenetic. Two videos, "Your Kiss" and "Red Hot," and a short (a little under four minutes) documentary that recounts the band history are included.
Folks in Austin or San Antonio and all points in between will want to watch the crowd shots for familiar faces like Dale Watson. For others, the CD/DVD gives a taste of Two Tons live and a pretty good representation of Texas dancehall culture.