David Allen Coe - guitar, vocals; Warren Haynes - guitar, vocals; Tommy Irwin - pedal steel; Michael "Rodeo" Martin - guitar; Peter Rowan - guitar, vocals; Mickey Hayes - bass, vocals; Albert "Big Al" Lauro - drums
Whether you are familiar with DAC or not, some things are immediately clear from this show, and they bear immediate mentioning for a proper summary of this night in Bonifay, Florida:
1) David Allen Coe resents formality, sobriety, and his lack of recognition.
2) David Allen Coe deeply appreciates Hank Williams, but this does not mean he's a country singer.
3) David Allen Coe is awesome.
On the other hand, whether I or anyone can accurately critique DAC is unlikely, as his life is Bizzaro-Americana throughout and defies most attempts at empathy. His youth was spent in trouble and in jail, wherein he presumably taught himself the guitar. Upon release, he moved to the parking lot of the Ryman Theatre (home of the Grande Ole Opry) in a hearse (seriously) and gained a spot on tour with Grand Funk Railroad within the year. Soon enough, DAC had injected rock 'n' roll, blues, Sixties sentiment and his own outlaw swagger into the otherwise conservative country-western scene.
Naturally, he was tirelessly snubbed by said scene throughout the 1970's until his counterculture following of rednecks, hippies, bikers and the lot brought down the wall keeping DAC out of the limelight. And while the 1980's saw the peak of his career, struggle often caught up with him. IRS repossessions, living in a cave (seriously), divorce, and accusations of alcoholism and prejudice all came a-calling on Coe.
But like a true outlaw, the man's plans never slowed DAC down, with this 1984 show serving an ideal example. Though we can hardly understand his life prior to this night, at least we can listen to the musical excellence it had produced. Coe drives his excellent band through 23 bottle-emptying, sole-burning originals, self-references, covers and cameos replete with musings on his life for the benefit of his audience. Besides his own songs (including the rarely credited "Take This Job And Shove It"), DAC draws from the catalogues of Dylan, The Allmans, The Band, a range of country-western artists from here to obscurity, and a coup de grace of The Eagles' "Life In The Fast Lane."
With a crack band including Warren Haynes and NRPS muse Peter Rowan, each song is a balance of the ferocity befitting a stadium rock concert and the proficiency of session musicians, all of which blend with Coe's recounts of his friends, fortunes, inspirations, and illustrious grandeur into an aural insight on the character of the conflicted yet calm David Allen Coe. Like I said, it's awesome.
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