The Flatlanders: more a band than a legend in concert
House of Blues, Anaheim, Cal., May 30, 2001
By Dan MacIntosh
ANAHEIM, CA - When a batch of rediscovered Flatlanders music was released under the title of "More A Legend Than A Band" back in 1990, such an editorial statement perfectly fit this trio's place in musical history, since Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock didn't make names for themselves as artists until long after The Flatlanders had called it a day.
But this current tour has become a forum to showcase many of the new songs these veterans have been writing together of late, which makes them closer to a real honest to goodness band than ever before.
It's not surprising to hear memorable songs coming out of these three fiercely individualistic personalities: Ely is a classic storyteller, Gilmore is a bit of a mystic and Hancock is simply an off-center wildcard. Yet they somehow meld their diverse personality traits together well, and write the kind of intelligent folk/country songs that have given Texas singer/songwriters such a highly regarded reputation.
Although they could not give specific information about a label or a release date for these songs, they sure whet the audience's appetite for this new music.
New songs ranged from the meditative "Mellon Moon" to the downright rambunctious "I Thought The Wreck Was Over," which is about the hangover from an ended love affair, and was inspired by the remarks Ely once overheard a rodeo clown make about his job.
Playing together on stage once again also inspired these three old friends to tell a lot of stories about their songs. Hancock told the best of these stories, which included one about a song he first dreamed up before writing, and one about "One Road More," which was prompted by the sounds his tractor made as he changed gears while riding it.
The group's final encore was a kicking version of Townes Van Zant's "White Freight Liner Blues," whom Ely had described as The Flatlanders' spiritual father earlier in the set. This road song was an appropriate ending, since everyone in the house was glad to see these stubbornly unique troubadours on the road together once again.