The Old 97\'s

Review: Concerts in the Garden 2018: Old 97's | Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra | Fort Worth Botanic Garden

Garden Party

At the Fort Worth Symphony's Concerts in the Garden, it was all about alt-country as the Old 97's took the stage on Sunday.

published Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Photo: Courtesy
The Old 97's


Fort Worth — Heading out for live music at Concerts in the Garden is less a gamble than an investment. The commitment needed to brave the heat index requires a reasonable return on perspiration. Confident that your eardrums will make up for your sweat glands. On Sunday night, the Old 97’s on Sunday night made it more than worth a while.

The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra forgivably had the night off. They usually play “The Star- Spangled Banner” and the audience always sings along. This time young Madeline Yarborough belted a twice key-centered anthem while inexplicably no one sang. The main event amicably commenced with casual professionalism as the band strolled on the stage and welcomed us to the “Boe-tan-ik Garden.” Apparently, mixing an outdoor rock show took a minute to find balance for the opener “Victoria.” The titular ladies name like the Texas town was the first of many on the road shout-outs to past lovers and lone star locales. The guitarist Ken Bethea from Tyler and bassist Murry Hammond from Boyd expertly tossed through the songs “Salome” and “Doreen”; herself from Fort Worth, where the band made one of their first demos in the early ’90s. The Old 97’s have carved out a sound equal parts Dallas sexy, Austin attitude, and Houston pollution.

The alternative country band, sometimes known as “y’all-ternative”, have 5 settings: Sincere romantic in “Valentine” and “Question” about a marriage proposal; mid-tempo swing in “Great Barrier Reef”, “Crying Drunk”, and “Jagged”; straight ahead pop in “Nineteen”, Murder (Or a Heart Attack) and “Lonely Holiday”; Rollicking in “Jesus Loves You” and “I’m Good with God” from their latest album Graveyard Whistling; and Whiskey buzzed in “West Texas Teardrops” and “Time Bomb.” Sounds of the latter almost induced a Jim Beam-like contact high.

The primary singer and songwriter Rhett Miller, who has published fiction, non-fiction, and poetry knows how to hit the bullseye when going low and basic. Common country music tropes of “tear in my beer” got a modern rendering through lines like “I've got issues, yeah, Like I miss you, yeah.” Themes of loss, lust, and liquor were delivered unironically as dependable pop hooks. In the song “Rollerskate Skinny” the lyric “I believe in love, but it don’t believe in me” had been hiding behind the curtains of rock ’n’ roll for 50 years waiting for someone with Miller’s talents to reveal words so simply canonical.

Each of the Old 97’s four members brought a unique part of roots-country that added up to a whole tractor. The drummer Phillip Peeples’s engine locked with Hammond’s pumping bass pistons and drove Bethea’s rusty edged guitar blade into the unearthed realness of Miller’s soiled heart.

Some of the crowd, like the band, of ageing bar dudes had tattoos twice as young as they were. If cynical they might have seen washed-out rock stars past their prime. But these true fans of a uniquely Texan band heard tried and true tunes sung along to by dozens, nodded along to by hundreds, recognized by thousands, and purchased by millions. Those millions or even thousands were not in attendance but those hundreds that were heard what fuels the business of show: the thing you get paid for, is the art you create, to cope with the grind of performing. You sing your own gasoline.

FWSO and CITG provided a fireworks-ending hot night of hotter alt-country hits.


The remaining Concerts in the Garden schedule is:


June 29

1950s Dance Party

John Mueller's Official Tribute to Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

Ron Spigelman, Conductor


June 30

Hotel California

"A Salute to The Eagles"

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

Ron Spigelman, Conductor


July 2-4

Old-Fashioned Family Fireworks Picnic

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

Alejandro Gómez Guillén, Conductor

Cecilia Duarte, Mezzo Soprano Thanks For Reading

View the Article Slideshow
Click or Swipe to close
Garden Party
At the Fort Worth Symphony's Concerts in the Garden, it was all about alt-country as the Old 97's took the stage on Sunday.
by Rob Laney

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :