New Country: William Clark Green — Live At Gruene Hall

William Clark Green — Live At Gruene Hall

I confess: the main reason I often avoid going to live country concerts is… well… is because I love country music. The last thing I want to hear is a great song drowned out by a bunch of random drunk people… or someone near me who isn’t the singer, but insists on singing along… in their own key. I prefer to kick back, with the Bose noise cancellers clinging to my ears, and hear every word and instrument. Heaven. The one exception I would make to this is, of course, any concert held at Gruene Hall in Gruene, Texas.

William Clark Green’s highly anticipated fifth album, and his first live album, is available now. Yes, that’s right—it’s a live album. But it was recorded at Gruene Hall. I wish I had been there. This collection is the next best thing. The only thing lacking is an order of enchiladas swimming in cheese from the nearby Cantina Del Rio (a pre-Gruene Hall tradition of mine). Maybe it’s time for a road trip, especially since this album might just be the road trip album ever.

Live At Gruene Hall is the follow-up to Green’s critically acclaimed 2015 release, Ringling Road. It features new live versions of songs from all of his past studio albums, as well as appearances by Jack Ingram, Dani Flowers, Ross Cooper and Randall Clay. What matters most (besides the album engineer’s ability to include enough of the audience to keep it real and alive) is William Clark Green’s uncompromising delivery of the material. He has a vocal swagger that can only have come from surviving a few clubs perhaps not as perfect as Gruene Hall. Every line he sings is either tell-it-like-it-is honest or tell-it-like-it-will-be prophetic, and he infuses both with a warmth and earnestness that makes you care as much about every lyric as he does, if that is possible.

It’s a full evening of music (nearly twenty generous songs) and, while it is steeped in nostalgia, it makes you feel good about the state of country music today. While in the past there have been bands we all hoped might transform the direction country music was heading (Randy Rogers Band comes to mind), it seems like the success of the genre has finally created such a diverse and vast listening audience that a kick-ass artist like the gravelly voiced William Clark Green has a chance to join in big on the spreading and lasting success of country music.

Like the glowing lights that drape the air, leading to the front door of Gruene Hall on a Texas evening, Green threads songs together with similar purpose. Assembled in a well-chosen order, they add up to a highly satisfying concert experience… when it’s over, I felt like saying “G’night y’all” to a few hundred sometimes rowdy, sometimes sentimental, sometimes singing along, very lucky fellow audience members.

Don’t tempt me with that road trip. With enough gas to get to Gruene, Texas, and music this good, I’m not sure this New Yorker would ever come home.

Track list:

  1. Intro
  2. Next Big Thing
  3. It’s About Time (*Ross Cooper)
  4. Dead Or In Jail
  5. Hanging Around
  6. Creek Don’t Rise
  7. Old Fashioned
  8. Sticks & Stones
  9. Final This Time (*Dani Flowers)
  10. Fool Me Once
  11. Caroline
  12. Rose Queen
  13. Gypsy
  14. Tonight
  15. Sympathy
  16. Still Think About You
  17. Wishing Well
  18. Ringling Road (*Randall Clay)
  19. She Likes The Beatles
  20. Intro to Jack Ingram
  21. Goodnight Moon (*Jack Ingram)

Essential Downloads: “It’s About Time,” “Creek Don’t Rise,” “Old Fashioned,” “Sympathy,” “Goodnight Moon.”

To preview or purchase this album on iTunes, click here.

(Photo: Phillip Guzman)

(Photo: Phillip Guzman)

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