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Charlie Robison
April 6, 2001
At The Satellite Lounge
Houston, TX

by Samuel Barker
April 10, 2001

For the first time in a year I was heading out to the Satellite Lounge. It's amazing how much stuff can change in a year. First off, Leo's Mexican Restaurant was closed down. This was good because that gives you a much better chance of finding a parking spot next to the venue. Secondly, the people around the club had changed. It's a little weird going back to a familiar spot and seeing unfamiliar faces.

The first person to play that night was Slaid Cleaves. He reminds me of bands like the Bottle Rockets because he sits at the bar just like anyone else until it's time to go on. Despite being one of, if not THE best singer/songwriter in Texas today, Slaid has no problem talking with everyone and drinking a beer with them.

Slaid started off with a strong set. Being only the second time It was hard for me to remember what he played because I'm not too familiar with his song titles. Despite this set back, I was totally into his set. Slaid played a lot of great music. He played a lot of old country complete with yoddeling. It was a sight to see.

His band was very talented as well. His bassist was a mad man. He had a double bass he'd stand on and play when the music got wild. The man who played the accordian, harmonica, and trumpet was right on! He played everything to it's fullest and you could tell he had a lot of fun performing for everyone. The lead guitarist put down some awesome riffs and helped the music pull you in. Slaid Cleaves is someone you'll be damn lucky to catch.

After a short break, Charlie Robison took the stage. Charlie Robison is one of Texas' best artists. Life Of The Party, his last release put his name on the map, but the harshness of his song topics led to him not breaking through. Now with the release of his new album, Step Right Up, Charlie is looking to hit the high road. That's what makes this stand at the Satellite Lounge so special, this is a great chance to see a man who is about to blow up in a nice intimate environment. Even though I'm not sure if fame would pull Charlie from this type of show, it'll be tough to see them in the future.

After taking the stage, Charlie and his band when into "12 Bar Blues." It was fun to hear him come out the door with a good rocker. The mood then settled back when he went into "You're Not The Best," a great song about giving up on the pursuit of a beautiful model type and settling back with someone a little less attractive. It provided for some good laughs and a lot of singing along.

The set flowed really well. Charlie did a great job mixing up the tempoes and getting everyone into the set. I was very impressed by his stage presence and his ability to get everyone going. When he went into the old country style dirge, "Loving County," everyone sang along and had a great time. The song had a great feel live and made the evening that much better.

Charlie's best moment was "The Wedding Song." Being a duet with Natalie Maines, Charlie did his best to pull it off. He did it perfectly and humorously. He sang it well, and just so everyone knew he stated "this is the female part." He also added in a few other songs off his new album including his first single, "Want You Bad." My favorite new song he played was the Irish influenced "John O'reilly." This song sounded great, and was a lot of fun.

The set closed with a lot of his best known songs. "Poor Man's Son" was dead on. It was a great track to play near the end of the set to get the energy high. It was a lot of fun to hear everyone sing along with the song. The last song of the set was "My Hometown." This was a great one. Everyone sang along during the entire song. At one point Charlie turned the mic out to the crowd so everyone could sing into it.

Charlie came out for an encore and did "Barlight, Barbright" which had been the requested song of the night. It was another song that everyone in the Satellite sang along to. It was a great track to play at to end a wonderful night. I was incredibly impressed with both artists who performed that night, and I was happy someone was giving country artists who write their own music the props they deserve. It's also nice to hear some real country instead of the pop they try to pass off today in the mainstream. You can only hope Nashville can open it's arms to something new and real the way Texas has.

Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at suma@rockzone.com.

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