I've been looking forward to two things on this, the second weekend of February. Celebrating our presidents and sucker relationship savers? Not so much. The beginning of the Olympics and the Old Union show at Third and Lindsley with Ballhog were on the calendar and the talk of the town. Third is not my favorite place to see a show. With the L shaped layout, it's hard to find a place to stand without being in I-65 like traffic and you might as well get right back in line for the bathroom because it will take that long to get back in. However, the sound is usually pretty good and it is a sentimental favorite for me, as I have done and seen some great shows there.
The preliminary round featured local string band Ballhog. As I mentioned before, the sound at Third is usually pretty good. On this night however, I don't know what happened. Actually I do. The sound guru Mikey split after the 7 o'clock show and left the late night to some apparent amateurs. An obviously bad connection kept producing loud popping noises on stage and after a couple of songs' worth of frantically turning knobs and running around, the sound guy duo finally looked at each other and shrugged, leaving the rest of the set prone to deafening feedback bursts and connection pops, which was unfortunate because Ballhog was really on. The return of sax man Chris West to an already ample horn section and a crowd full of Ballhog enthusiasts provided an energy boost to some already fun songs, even if there were some early forgotten lyrics and slight confusion. Starting off with a crowd favorite "Holy Ghost Train" got everyone singing along and "I Can't Hide Where I'm From" got everyone dancing. Some other favorites of mine included "The El Fandango" and "Cameras", which is a clever Randy Russell song about the ever-intrusive big brother. I also love when banjo man Craig sings. Although I don't know the exact titles of his songs,he is the classic case of how you don't have to sing like an American Idol to be a great singer. All in all a great Ballhog show and a good opener for the U.
Old Union came out with a bang. Unfortunately, the combination of my O.U. song title ignorance and a missing pen along with a raging buzz by this time made it hard to gather much of the set list. Highlights for me included "Last Chance", with Chris West being invited back up on stage to trade sax licks with Chuck's electric piano, which was pretty cool to see in a band with two spectacular guitarists who usually take that role. Speaking of spectacular guitarists, Johnny Z won the gold medal for his performance on this night. I might be wrong but it seemed like Johnny took more solos than usual, reaching those epic, finger in the air Woo Hoo moments that make this band awesome. Another good one was "Traveling Show" with Patty D adding another sax and Spotty Dog killing it on his Les Paul. I'm pretty sure this is also the song that featured Dave's drum solo. His solos are unique in the fact that they aren't all about playing a million beats per second with high flying fills. Not that he couldn't do one of those, but his are more groove oriented with lots of rolls and cymbal crashes. By the way, bass player Jason Williams or "J. Dub" is so tight I can barely stand it. He is the classic soft-spoken, quirky bass powerhouse. O.U. is lucky to have obtained him a few years ago.
Even though I can't name every song they played, I do know that there was a steady mix of old and new ones and the entire show rocked a hundred or so asses, including mine. An Old Union show has come to mean not only a good concert, but also a party with a close community of friends and fans alike that make the whole experience a blast.