Wagon gives a lively ride
Off Broadway, St. Louis, Mo., June 15, 1996
By Eric Zehnbauer
ST. LOUIS - Wagon, appearing before its hometown crowd in a special CD release party concert to celebrate the release of its new CD, played an enjoyable, if a bit too short set.
The band immediately woke up the nearly full house with the opening number, "Angeline," a rousing stomp from the new album, "No Kinder Room" on Hightone featuring blazing fiddle work from fiddler Chris Peterson. Peterson's fiddle playing was a highlight throughout the show, particularly on "Three A.M." and the title track from the CD.
The other band members, Ben Davis (guitar/vocals), Danny Kathriner (drums/vocals), Len Small (bass/vocals), and multi-instrumental Steve Rauner (mandola, Hammond organ, lap steel and accordion) also displayed their talents.
Rauner was most notable when he played the lap steel, especially on "She's Alone," a track which sounds like a prime candidate for radio airplay/release as a single. The live version rocked out much more than the album version.
Peterson also showed his multi-instrumental ability on "I Worry," playing the lap dulcimer along with the fiddle. This song sounded like another good candidate for airplay, sounding very similar to Wilco or the Jayhawks.
The set closed with another rousing number, a tear-the-roof-off-the-sucker version of "Driving Home" in which Rauner, on mandola this time, and Peterson, on fiddle, worked themselves into a frenzy. It was a great set closer.
Unfortunately, it didn't work the crowd into enough of a frenzy to generate an encore.
Opening the show was the local group One Fell Swoop, a very talented sextet notable for the multi-instrumental abilities ( mandolin, banjo, dobro, flute, harmonica, and accordion) of most of the band members and sharing of vocal duties. Many songs featured multi-part harmonies.
The songs from One Fell Swoop, which has an eponymous EP due soon, evinced a variety of musical influences. "Recurring Nightmares" was a distinctly Cajun-feeling, up-tempo number, while a couple of others displayed anIrish influence.
The standout song of the set was "Good For You,"in which bassist Dade Farrar (brother of Son Volt's Jay Farrar) displayed a fantastic baritone voice. This guy could be a great traditional country singer a la George Strait or Randy Travis with a voice like that.