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Blue Rodeo shines brightly

The Knitting Factory, Hollywood, Cal., March 2, 2001

By Dan MacIntosh

HOLLYWOOD, CA -- Playing to this crowd of only a few hundred, at best, must have been a humbling experience for a band normally accustomed to entertaining multiple thousands of Canadian concert goers at a time. But even with this small draw, the rootsy Blue Rodeo performed with plenty of snap, crackle and (country) pop before a loyal late night Hollywood crowd.

Supporting its recent independently released "The Days In Between" album, vocalists Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor took turns belting out the Rodeo's high quality gut level love songs.

Although the band is not a musically adventurous outfit, it plays with such precision and enthusiasm, you hardly notice how familiar some of these sounds are. Its style is closer to Neil Young's country side or seventies country-rock, than it is to the edgier wing alt.-country.

But unlike so many contemporary alt.-country acts, Blue Rodeo has also mastered the art of creating memorable and literate songs.

Compositions like "Fallen From Grace" and "Disappear" (both from "Tremolo") and "Better Off As We Are" (from "Nowhere To Here") act like a surgeon's probes into the psyche of the human heart. Such high standards are also adhered to on the group's new album, especially its title cut and the foreboding "Sad Nights."

While much of its material is guitar-driven folk/country/rock, it also found moments within this established pattern to spice things up with a little honky tonk and even a touch of the blues, as on the torch-y "After The Rain."

Blue Rodeo may not ever get its star on the sidewalk outside this Hollywood Blvd. club, but it certainly shone brightly to the discerning eyes and ears inside.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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