The winds of West Texas blew through Knuckleheads last night. Along with it came Texas legends the Flatlanders: Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, and Joe Ely. Also along for the ride was soon to be Texas legend in his own right: newcomer Colin Gilmore -- Jimmie Dale's son.
For Knuckleheads, it was a higher-priced show -- $32.50 per head -- but the venue was packed. Many in the crowd considered the cost to be a bargain for the return. Colin Gilmore opened the night performing songs from his second CD, Goodnight Lane. While the crowd filed in for the main event, it was a little chatty during the first few songs. But as Colin progressed through his set, he subdued the audience with his timid but yet strong stage presence. With songs like "Llano," Gilmore told tales of living in West Texas from a more youthful era and perspective than those older Texas troubadours. Others songs -- "Circles in The Yard" and "The You That I Knew" -- presented Gilmore as a more mature and experienced man, in life and love. By mid-set the crowd was in tune with him, and quite impressed. After his set finished, Gilmore wandered through Knuckleheads surrounded by folks telling stories of having seen his dad Jimmie in such-and-such year. Colin would nod and smile. But he smiled bigger for those spoke of seeing Jimmie and Colin playing together at such-and-such place.
With Knuckleheads at near indoor capacity, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, and Joe Ely took the stage to a standing and roaring crowd. These troubadours brought both young and old out in the cold rainy night. The Flatlanders started right off with the old tales of a hardcore West Texas lifestyle with "I Had My Hope Up High," "The Wind's Dominion," and "Dry Land Farm." By the fourth song, "Julia," the dance floor was filling up with happy twirlers familiar with all the lyrics of the Flatlanders. Songs off the band's newest release, Hills and Valleys, such as "Homeland Refugee," showed that the band was still chugging along with the same beat and flavor as its older material. A high point for the crowd was "The Road Goes on Forever"; the whole audience was in unison during the chorus: and the party never ends! The three also paid tributes to their mentors Townes Van Zandt and Lefty Frizzell. (They even admitted that Van Zandt used to tell some pretty bad jokes: "A skeleton walked into a bar, and asked for a Bud Light, and a mop," said Jimmie Dale Gilmore.)
Towards the end of the night, Jimmie Dale Gilmore called Colin Gilmore on stage for a couple of songs. Colin blended perfectly with the legendary trio. Together, they sounded as if the four had been playing since the Flatlanders first album, More A Legend Than A Band (really only released on 8-track back in the late 70's). Last night, the band proved its legacy Kansas City: after the show, half the crowd sought words, pictures, and signatures from the West Texas legends. They were only too happy to oblige.