Virgil Shaw / The John Doe Trio

Monday, February 24, 3003, Omaha, NE
I drove six hours through ten inches of snow for this one and it was worth it.
It was an intimate show, probably about 18 people, what with it being below zero and a Monday night in Omaha. I almost didn't recognize Virgil as he's thinner and his hair is shaggier and blonder than I remember from the 2001 Angels of Light tour, which is how I first became aware of the San Francisco singer/songwriter and Dieselhed frontman. He played acoustic guitar miked through a small practice amp and was joined by Marc Capelle on piano, backing vocals and occasional flugelhorn. As expected the 45 minute set was primarily from the new album 'Still Falling' and included all of my favorites: "The Drawing", "Golden Sun", "Wilderness of This World", "Still Falling", "Water Color" and "Volvo" (both from the previous album, 'Quad Cities', Shaw's solo debut), plus two more I was particularly taken with, the Bee Gees' "Country Lanes" and a new one, "Logger's Daughter". His songs fall loosely into the alt-country vein and the quirky physicality of his guitar playing matches the closed-eyed intensity of his unique vocals.
John Doe did a couple songs solo then the rest of the trio joined him, Dave Carpenter on stand-up bass and backing vocals and Nick Luca on piano and occasional guitar. They played nearly all of last year's new album, 'Dim Stars, Bright Sky', which was exactly what I wanted. There were several older songs I didn't really recognize and three classic X songs: "White Girl", "Burning House of Love" and another that I've since forgotten, other than they did a "country" version of it. John joked that if he ever ended up in Branson to "please shoot me". He was very congenial and funny all night, having a conversation with us between every song, which made for the same sort of vibe Mark Eitzel can conjure up on a good night. "Highway 5" became "Highway 80" since they had broken down on it earlier in the day and several people stopped to ask if they needed help. There were two encores and the last song was a request for "Take 52" from Doe's solo debut 'Meet John Doe'. John said "I don't think they're going to like that one" pointing to the three late arriving punk rock kids (everyone else was "normal" looking, most easily in their 30s and up) at the table down front and played it anyways. Their whole set was about one hour and 20 minutes. Don't worry John, you won't end up in Branson anytime soon. But you will end up on the East coast and in the South, with and without Virgil, through the rest of March. Check or for all the dates.