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Kirchen, DeLone dole out pleasures

McCabe's, Santa Monica, Cal., August 28, 2016

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Bill Kirchen/Austin de Lone concert

Bill Kirchen sang and played "Hot Rod Lincoln" - this time right before intermission - as he always does. Only this performance, while paired with pianist Austin de Lone, it came off differently. You see, there's a point in the song where our hot rod Lincoln driver is passed by a long line of other drivers. These drivers take the form of rock stars and mostly guitarists. However, with de Lone pounding piano, said hot rodder also gets left in the dust by the likes of pianists Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino. This made for a welcome variation on the form and a memorable concert.

Having de Lone along was no surprise, as both men are currently touring in support of their "Transatlaticana" collaboration album. The appearance of esteemed singer/songwriter Butch Hancock, however, was a pleasant surprise. The trio performed Hancock's "Oxblood," as well as two other songs, which made this show especially unique. Kirchen mostly sang trucking songs, country songs and fun songs like "Hounds of Bakersfield" from the latest album.

Kirchen filled all of the duo's songs with his Telecaster hot licks, while de Lone added honky tonk, boogie woogie and rock and roll piano parts. Both men sang well with Kirchen bellowing down low as de Lone vocalized more sweetly and soulfully.

It was an odd juxtaposition to watch Kirchen sing classic country and classic country-inspired songs, yet also fill these with pinpointed liberal political lines. One trucking song included a new line supporting transgenders' access to restrooms in North Carolina, while "Rock into Sand" is a pro evolution song.

Kirchen closed with a cover of "The Times They Are a Changin'" by Bob Dylan. That wasn't unexpected because it also appears on pair's latest. What may have thrown off se list prognosticators, though, was the duo's encore on another Dylan song, "To Ramona." This was not like the relatively simplistic lyrical protest song that proceeded it, but one of Dylan's more wordy compositions. Nevertheless, the two men traded extended verses quite impressively.

It's impossible to complain about any concert filled with tried and true musical elements, spiced up with a few unexpected pleasures. And that's what fans got tonight.

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