The Long Ryders at the Horseshoe Tavern

September 16, 2019 at 9:10 pm (Uncategorized)

Way, way back in time,  actually it was probably 1987, I saw the Long Ryders at a little bar in Hamilton. Among the songs they played was “Run Dusty Run” from their first album Native Sons.In performing the song, the band modified the line, “Run Dusty run don’t hold back the hammer, I got a little lady on the other side,” to “I got a little lady on the Hamilton side.” Whoop whoop! as chance would have it, I saw the band the following night in Toronto when they opened for Billy Bragg at the Concert Hall. They played pretty much the same set (excellent both times), but now the line was “I got a little lady on the Toronto side.” Ha! Three decades on, the band has reformed, has a fantastic new album, Psychedelic Country Soul, and is playing the Horseshoe Tavern. Would they play the same song? Turned out “Run Dusty Run” was not on the set list, but plenty of Toronto references slipped in (Fro the final “Looking for Lewis and Clarke,” the line about Tim Hardin was replaced by a reference to Neil Young and Massey Hall).

I broke a personal rule coming to see the Long Ryders. Never see a band that reforms if you saw them in their prime. As it turned out, this was a rule that was made to be broken. It was a terrific show. The band played a generous 75 minute set along with a two-song encore, starting with “Gunslinger Man” from Two-Fisted Tales and concluding with the rousing “Lewis and Clarke.”

It’s been said of the band that they invented alternative-country, but never got the credit for it. Might be some truth to that. The band emerged around the same time as the Paisley Underground of bands like Green on Red, ,the Dream Syndicate and the Rain Parade, btu unlike those bands who drew on the energy of punk and married it with sixties psychedelic or garage sounds, the Long Ryders drew on Gram Parsons and country-rock sounds. I seem to remember the genre being referred to as Cow-punk and including bands like Rank & File and Jason & the Scorchers). Anyway, it remained a niche, albeit a lovely one, before the “No Depression” sound burst forth at the end of the ’80s.

Great band, criminally not as well kknown as they should be, but you still have a chance to appreciate them via the original three albums, and the new one is rather good too.

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