Monday, February 05, 2007 ... 7:00 AM

On tour - Gillian Welch and the Dave Rawlings Machine

(Cross-posted at

Gillian Welch and The Dave Rawlings Machine are both on the move, with a handful of dates across the Southeastern US. As Gillian Welch, they're stopping in Atlanta and Asheville, which see a fat share of national Americana acts, and my own home of Charlotte -- which doesn't. As the Rawlings Machine, the duo aim for smaller cities that, I'd guess, don't see a lot of national anything (besides Carrboro, where everybody plays). They'll stop in Greenville, South Carolina; Huntsville, Alabama; and Greensboro, North Carolina, at a recently-closed club called The Flying Anvil, who have re-opened their doors just for the event.

The schedule is in keeping with the Machine's apparent mission, to play whatever whenever wherever they feel like it. Dave and Gil first appeared as the Dave Rawlings Machine last summer at the Newport Folk Festival, and since then they've bounced around from central Virginia to Nebraska to Nashville satellite-city Murfreesboro, snowballing internet buzz all along. An audience recording of their early Charlottesville, Virginia, show has run alive at longer than plenty of recording contracts.

Their spontaneity gives the act a tingle of urgency that characterized Gillian Welch's stage show for so long, but, for me anyway, has leaked away over the last few years as their setlist has calcified -- made keener probably by the dank sameness of a procession of audience recordings available for OCD-like downloading. How many performances of "I Want To Play That Rock and Roll" did I listen to before it began to sound like cars going by my window? And the depressing followup question -- how many times did they play the song before it began to feel that way?

This urgency around the Dave Rawlings Machine gets a boost from the relative paucity of press on the act. The internet is lousy with bland Gillian Welch interviews conducted by local newspapers to highlight an upcoming gig, but there's little on the Machine beyond fan adulation -- where excited questions turn over and over: Will they record? Is this a novelty inversion, or a second full-time gig? If I don't see this act now, will I have another chance? And it's fairly amazing to me that only one Machine show, of their dozens of appearances, has hit the download ciricuit. All this uncertainty, all that's not known -- I like this about the Machine. It makes me sentimental about the pre-'Net days of zines and radio DJs who gave a damn, and fan clubs and good old rumors -- where legends boil up. Myths.

Well, I won't get a chance to see the Machine this time around. But I do have tickets for Gil's show here in the Queen City. And despite all I said above about the draining of spontaneity and so forth -- I am excited, boy. Expect a Hickory Wind review in a few weeks.



Saw Dave Rawlings Machine at Newport Folk Fest. Took down the set list (alas no recording!) if anyone interested. This is first mention i've come across on web of Machine shows. No wonder I couldn't find anything on web in first months after show!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/30/2007 12:47 AM  

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Making Notes: Music of the Carolinas
(Novello Festival Press, April 2008)
includes my essay, "Link Wray"


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