The Culture Room - Ft. Lauderdale, FL (January 18, 2013)

written by Dorothy St.Claire

I started this night with a delicious gift from Sandy Kaufmann - a huge, rich, fudgy chocolate cake. My oh my, I knew what I was doing after the show - and it would involve buying a half gallon of milk. There really wasn't much going on around the Culture Room, so Michael and I just hung around outside for quite a while before a line actually formed and it was time to go in. 

Wow. This place is small. Like really small. I don't know what the capacity of the Culture Room is, but they included the outside courtyard and the middle room with no view when they decided the capacity of this joint. Only about half of the people there could even see the stage. With that being said... I immediately loved this place. I love different venues, and this place is different. Ben's sister was at the show tonight, along with his mom, and I really enjoyed visiting with them in their sweet "reserved" balcony spot before the show started.

They opened with "East Nashville Easter", and from the first few notes, this was the best "ENE" Michael and I had ever heard. All thanks to the infallible Jason Carter. The flannel-less Dave led us in a fun "Maid of the Canyon", and Adam sang his way into our hearts with "Rain Still Falls". "It's nice to be in south Florida again. I like it especially because I got family down here - my mother and my sister are all embarrassed right now... So we're gonna play them a song about Wyoming because they love Wyoming so much." Ben had the best smile as he looked up at Sandy and Ali; it was just precious. We turned our attention back to Dave as he followed through with Ben's promise and sang "Winds of Wyoming", riding the extended solos all the way to the end. I don't know how many times I can say this before it seems like fluffing, or just plain lies... but Jason Carter blew my mind during this one. His fiddle brought with it that lonesome sound that you know came straight from the heart of Burle's Wyoming cowboy. Ben sang the heartfelt "Straight Line" next, and then picked up the pace with the favorite, "Troubled Mind". 

It was clearly time for Dave to say something witty - he grinned and leaned into the mic a couple times before finally saying, "I sent this song off to Hallmark but they sent it back with a bucket of puke". Holy cow. I must say, this is probably my favorite intro to "Don't Worry Happy Birthday" yet.

"It's always fun when you get to see friends thousands of miles from home." Jeff said as they welcomed Matt Flinner and Ross Martin to the tiny stage for a little clusterpluck. "Ross Martin is so good, he already played his solo a few weeks ago"... and then it was time for some John Hartford and "Up on the Hill Where They do the Boogie". It was really fun watching all these guys have so much fun playing together. We didn't even need to be there; the audience was just a bonus for them at this point. The instrumental "Old Dangerfield" came next, led by Jason Carter. What can I say? It was incredible, and it was followed by a kick ass "Pretty Daughter" before everyone left the stage for set break. 

The second set started with a song that always makes me smile, "Looking Back Over My Shoulder", and more joking around from Ben. "Thanks very much folks, please give it up for these 4 fellas up here playing all the fast notes, and the good notes, and the tasty notes. Delicious, delicious notes. And if you thought that was something, just you wait for this next thing." They were on a roll tonight! "Southern Flavor" was that next thing, and it was pretty darn awesome. And then it was time for yet another guest, as Eric Thorin joined them on stage to trade the bass back and forth with Ben on "Crow Black Chicken". 

It was so very hot and so very crowded. If there was any night for Dave to go without a flannel, this would be it. Adam sang "All the Time" before they switched gears and tried to bring out the pot smokers with "2 Hits and the Joint Turned Brown". It didn't really work. But people enjoyed it, nonetheless. Then it was time for "Damned if the Right One Didn't Go Wrong", and for Michael to finally put his prop to use. When he saw that we would be right up against the stage, extremely close to the band, Michael decided tonight was a good night to bring in his toy fiddle. He was right, because the line he'd been waiting for came up, "... Lord have mercy, hand me a fiddle! Damned if the right one didn't go wrong!" and Michael handed Ben the fiddle. Of course, Ben was in the zone and had his eyes closed, but the gag was not missed by Jeff. Good times. This song went on and on... in the best way. In the Jason Carter way. He sawed those strings like nobody's business, making the crowd go absolutely wild. Unlike the previous night in Orlando, every single person moved to the music. You couldn't stop the magic from seeping into your bones. Even Ben felt it, totally missing his cue and coming in halfway through a verse. "I got sucked into the vortex on that one!" 

We fell into a slower groove with "Pockets" next. Then Jeff introduced Jason Carter, who was finally going to take his turn on the mic with Waylon Jennings' "Lonesome On'ry and Mean". Oh baby, it was fine! Jason's vocals were smooth as butter, and the solo that came out of Jeff was perfect! Then Ben led us in Dave's boogie-woogie groove, "Ripcord Blues". And then, to my absolute delight, Adam played some Metallica. Gosh darnit, I love Metallica, and I love when Adam plays the intro to "...And Justice For All" before the intro to "Dawn's Early Light". It was incredible, and completely made my night. And then they hit us with "On the Run". I mean, come on. This show was a scorcher. With the show we got, we didn't even need a sandwich to finish the set - just this nice fat "On the Run". 

The crowd clapped and chanted "One more song!" as we waited for the encore. Times like this, I'm so glad I have my fan. I moved out of the crowd to a spot on the side stairs for this last bit of music, but it was still stiflingly hot - even out of the crowd.  "You kept chanting one more song, but we're gonna play two more songs, if that's ok." Duh, Jeff. "Southbound" was the first song... but then the second. Oh, the second song was one I've been seeking out for quite some time. The last time I heard it was at a migraine show almost a year ago. The time before that? Wow... a long time ago. "If I Lose" blew my mind, and there I was. Sitting halfway on the stage in front of Jason Carter, trying not to freak out. 

"We hope you had a good time. We had a good time watchin ya." Oh boy Jeff, did we ever.

Written by Dorothy St.Claire 

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