Thursday, August 4, 2011

33. Brent Best at the Barley House, 8/3/11

33. Brent Best, at the Barley House.

Seen through a haze of drink.

On Wednesday night (Day Sixty-Nine of the The Project), Brent Best, of Slobberbone, played an intimate free show at the Barley House.  About 12-15 people were there, a large percentage of which seemed to know Brent personally.  Local comedian Dave Little, a big fan, was there as well. 

Crouched over his acoustic guitar and harp rack, Brent croaked out stripped-down versions of Slobberbone songs, covers, and new tunes.  With his world-weary Steve Earle voice, he made every number sound like the plaint of a guy who has seen a bit too much and drinks to forget it.  There was a little bit of good-natured banter and heckling from his friends and well-wishers, and at one point when  someone joked, "Hey, that wasn't funny," to something Brent mumbled, he replied, 'I don't do punchlines.  I just sing sad fuckin' songs."

The atmosphere, of course, was relaxed and personal.  Brent would start the first few notes of a song, then reconsider, cut it short, and launch into something else that struck his fancy.  Among the standouts he chose were a hoarse, angry "Dunk You in the River" and "Man of Note."

Brent's literate story-songs reminded R of Josh Ritter, while of course his delivery and demeanor are more Tom Waits or Neil Young. Of course there wasn't the energy or showmanship of a Slobberbone show, this being more of a song showcase than the Brent Best Experience, but his material is so strong it stood on its own, with minimal presentation.

In sum: Brent Best alone, with acoustic guitar, reinforces the belief that Slobberbone is among the very top-tier rock acts out there.

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