You could feel the anticipation in the air Saturday night at Rough Trade NY, where Bobby Long was set to headline. As I made my way into the venue, I was greeted by tons of familiar faces of Bobby fans, who I grew to know quite well as Bobby built his US reputation on the Lower East Side of New York City almost seven years ago.
But first, we were treated to opening band, Bird Dog. The 4-piece band weaved their magic with their blend of country and honky tonk music, expert songwriting, and delightful fiddle playing. They drew a healthy sized crowd for being the first of the opening acts – a definite sign to keep an eye out for them in the future.
Settling in for the second set of the night, Dawn Landes graced the stage, along with fellow musician Robert Ellis to accompany her on guitar. The two had easy stage banter with each other, as well as the crowd. She even nodded toward me to help her out when a few talkative fans needed a gentle nudge to quiet down.
Dawn’s songwriting is nothing short of transcendent. Her sweet yet steadfast vocals filled the room, while Robert helped out occasionally with harmonies. The definite crowd pleaser of the night was when the two did a cover of John Prine and Iris Dement’s duet “In Spite Of Ourselves.” Hearty laughs at the lyrics could be heard from the back of the venue, while Dawn stifled a smile onstage.
Bobby definitely kept the crowd in good spirits once he took the stage at about 11pm. With his hair still covering his eyes as it was all those years ago, but with a ton more confidence, Long launched into his first song without any hesitation, his gravelly voice enhancing the emotion and lyrics of his songs. I’ve seen Bobby play with a band many times before, but here he was solo, letting his skilled fingerpicking take center stage.
If there’s one thing you absolutely need to know about Bobby Long, it’s that he’s an expert storyteller. His songwriting is something that is quite rare to find these days, and what ultimately kept me following his career for so many years. You can also say he’s an expert storyteller in the form of crowd banter as well. Bobby consistently tells the funniest stories on stage that I’ve heard get genuine, doubled-over laughter from the crowd. Be it a story about how he wants to kill his sister’s ex husband which led into a song fittingly called “Kill Someone”, or if it’s about nothing in particular, Bobby has a quick wit that his absolutely unmatched. It truly helps makes his shows a MUST SEE.
Article by: Lesley Keller
Photos by: Michael DiGiovanni + Lesley Keller