Wayne The Train came back to Madison.
I saw him open for The Reverend Horton Heat last summer at the Live on King Street show outside The Majestic. Otis had given me some of Wayne’s albums to check out before the show and I must say, at the time I was like, hmmm… not for me thanks. When Dalton and I went to the show we got down front so that we could be in a good spot for The Reverend, but as it turned out, I enjoyed Wayne just as much.
After the show I gave the albums another chance and it turns out that without my snobbery, they are great. Nothing I would have considered up my alley a few years ago, but for some reason it really struck a chord with me now. Honky-Tonk Swing? What has happened to me?
When I saw he was coming to Madison again I was stoked.
I had been in the High Noon Saloon for a drink one night, but had no idea what a show there would be like. It’s not huge by any means and is sort of long with a stage at one end. Josh and I got tickets (will calls) and met there on a freezing cold Wednesday night.
I got there about 7 for an 8 o’clock show and there were like 10 people in there. We got some beers and made a few scavenging runs for show posters. Got one for each of us (see above) and one for Otis, and there were 2 kinds. We also got one of these.
No marquee to get a picture of sadly, and no ticket stubs. Boooo…
I did get this beauty however. My hand stamp.
There was just a list of people who had purchased advanced tickets. Josh looked at the list as the door man came around and was checking for my name. There were 29 people on it.
I had no idea what to expect when the show started. We debated about standing down front for the opener “Nellie Wilson” but as they were setting up and there was lots of room still we opted to stay in our cushy seats at the bar. I loved all the band stickers on the coolers behind the bar.
A few I even recognized. How did Russ Feingold get in there?
As Nellie Wilson started to play we got a “we were there” selfie
and settled back to listen.
Nellie was accompanied by a violin (fiddle? we debated for a while and if you are interested you can find some interesting info on the difference here: http://worldmusic.about.com/od/instrumentation/f/Whats-The-Difference-Between-A-Fiddle-And-A-Violin.htm but the joke “What’s the difference between a fiddle and a violin?” Answer… “You don’t spill beer on a violin!”) and a stand up bass (awesome) and a guy on electric guitar. Nellie was on acoustic. I moved down front to get some pictures.
She did slow acoustic country and was pretty good. I guess you could call her irreverent a bit. She did some standout songs that brought a chuckle to the crowd that I can’t repeat here cause my mom reads this blog. It was interesting to see the fiddle gal softly bowing as Nellie was singing dirty lyrics. It all worked though.
She was fun and played well and the crowd dug her. She has a CD out called “Not This Time”, but I recommend checking out her ReverbNation page. You can find some of the irreverent tracks there that are not on the CD.
At the changeover we decided to stake a claim at the front of the stage. I expected a crowd like at The Majestic, but by the time Wayne came out I would describe the crowd as plump, but not packed in. It was nice actually to not have to be crunched. The crowd was respectful and evenly distributed around the stage. It was a nice change of pace from what I am used to, always trying to protect my space and be as wide as possible. I was able to actually leave my spot (to buy a CD) and get back right up front with no problem. There was an interesting dynamic in the bar, half seemed into the show, the other half was playing pool and just there to drink.
The bar is long, so the show crowd was really in only half the bar. It’s not very wide either. Here is a shot I took when Nellie was onstage.
I have to say in all the shows that I have been to, Wayne is the least flashy and unimposing figure when he gets onstage. They all came out and there were some whoops, but he just dropped his sole piece of equipment, his guitar pedal
and got the party started. His hand started strumming and for the rest of the night this blur is pretty much what it looked like.
The same band members that I saw with him in the summer were still with him. The bass player with his beat up stand up bass. There is tape over the holes in the body and a bandana wrapped around the bottom part, but he makes that thing thump.
and on Wayne’s left was the guitar duo.
It is sort of an interesting dynamic. Wayne is no doubt the voice you come to love and hear, but these 2 guys are the voice of the songs. They each have a distinct style and they trade solos in almost every song. The guy with the hollow body guitar has a higher more jazzy kind of sound and the guy with the solid body guitar has a more old-time country twang sort of sound. They are both fantastic and they were giving the 2 Fender amps a workout. Low tech stage set up. One amp was just sitting on a chair.
I took a look at the stage while we were down front. The history that has stood on this stage is kind of fun to think about. It’s worn and often mistaken as a coaster.
Wayne was in fine form and I knew every song. The whole vibe there was laid back and my legs muscles were soon sore from dancing in place. There was a guy dancing to our left that was an exact copy of Dr. Johnny Fever from the TV show WKRP In Cincinnati. He was respectfully drunk dancing with his wife. They had a neutral zone around them and kept to it not bothering anyone. Then to our right was a guy doing a cross between jazz hands and sixties flower power dancing. He kept to his zone too. Everyone was cool and just digging it. At one point I left the stage front area to go all the way to the back of the bar to buy a CD and then made it back to my spot, which was still there. Weird.
We got a stage front selfie.
Wayne called his wife up onstage from the merch table to sing a couple.
She was pretty good, and Wayne happily shared some harmony to her vocals.
The rest of the show was awesome and I had my sharpie ready to try to get a signature on my poster. The show ended and Wayne was quick to leave the stage so I was bummed. We stuck around for about 10 minutes and somehow he got past us and was at the merch table! So I took my CD over to have him sign it, which he did with a smile.
I bought “Swing Time” from Wayne’s wife during the show.
and it was actually perfect for him to sign.
This is a CD of a live show. It’s pretty good. Different lineup, but still good. Thank you sharpie.
Josh got his poster signed and a picture with Wayne. Classic.
The show was fantastic. Great vibe, great venue and great music. I would see Wayne again any day. I love this stuff.
Hot music for a cold night in Wisconsin.
Come back soon man.