Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Otis Gibbs - Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath, Birmingham Monday 14th July 2014

Otis Gibbs is a regular visitor to the UK and will always guarantee you a good show. He has been a firm favourite of mine since first seeing him hold court at the Big Sessions Festival in Leicester in 2009. A subsequent duet with Billy Bragg on the Gram Parsons' classic 'Sin City' at that festival further cemented his status and the five most recent albums are a brimful collection of wonderful observational tales. Needless to say his Birmingham show at the Kitchen Garden Cafe matched the blueprint that has set the high standards and he acquired many new fans who were seeing him for the first time. Having reviewed Otis on countess occasions, this time I would like to predominantly share some of the music played on the night to tempt a few more people to seek out the wise man of Wanamaker Indiana coming to you via East Nashville and a listening venue near your town.

The first two songs were featured in his opening set and show the span of the releases that he draws his live material from. 'Small Town Saturday Night' originally surfaced on 2004's ONE DAY OUR WHISPERS and is as near as standard Otis Gibbs track as you get. Often introduced after his infamous story of singing Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers covers for tips to maintain the lifestyle of a drunken uncle, the masterful lyrics paint a symbolic picture of growing up in small town USA through the eyes of Otis Gibbs. The other track is brand new and can be found on his latest album SOUVENIRS OF A MISSPENT YOUTH. Once again the story telling is engaging as Otis manages to link boxing and Vietnam in 'Ghosts of Our Fathers', a track reminiscing about parents and neigbours. These are just two fine examples which were joined by the following songs making the opening set list for this evening:

Second Chance: Never Enough: Where Only The Graves Are Real:  It Was A Train: Back In My Day Blues: Plus an unknown cover dug out for a Bob Harris session.


After the break, Otis continued to serve up a lavish diet of sweet stories and savoury tracks which met the appetite of a well attended and hungry Kitchen Garden crowd. The two tracks selected to share were the final songs of the evening as Otis orchestrated his memorable stage managed encore routine. Both songs highlight his lyrical ability to capture the mood of the road, a place Otis knows too well. They also mix the rural openness and urban grit that lends a theme to many of his songs. 'Detroit Steel' became a flagship track from 2012's HARDER THAN HAMMERED HELL and has settled in well as a live favourite. 'Kansas City' contains the immortal troubadour line '7 hours in a car, 45 minutes singing in a bar' and comes with no higher recommendation than being my second favourite all time Otis Gibbs song (sadly 'Get Me Out Of Detroit' didn't make the set cut tonight). While these tracks take pride of place for this post, it is worth checking out any of the following songs that were played in the second half of this gig:

Joe Hill's Ashes: Beto Junction: Caroline: Aint' Nothing Special: Something More: The Town That Killed Kennedy: The Darker Side of Me:  Long Black Thunder.

There is so much more that can be said about Otis Gibbs but it would be better if you checked him out yourselves. The following three links are great starting points and then you can join the growing band of Otis Gibbs admirers.



Remaining dates on current UK tour

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