Karolyn Larson traveled all the way from Wheeler, Wisconsin to see the country themed Red Rocks show on Tuesday night. She is a Dwight Yoakam super fan who has seen the musician perform more than twenty times. Larson even has a special place in her wallet for her Dwight Yoakam guitar picks. Others were there to witness the high energy roots music of Old Crow Medicine Show. I was there to see Molly Tuttle’s Red Rocks debut.
Bluegrass wonder Molly Tuttle, bass player Annie Clements, and drummer Megan Jane took the stage all dressed in white (it was before Labor Day so no fashion rules were violated). The crowd was immediately impressed with Tuttle’s skillful guitar playing as her fingers flew across the fret board. She performed a number of tunes from her covers album … But I’d Rather Be With You. It was recorded in her bedroom during last year’s pandemic lockdown. She joked it gave her something to do after binge watching Twin Peaks. Tuttle dedicated She’s a Rainbow by The Rolling Stones to Charlie Watts who passed away the previous week. Another song from the album was Rancid’s Olympia, WA . Tuttle made the punk classic her own especially with Jane and Clements backing her up.
Molly Tuttle announced that her father Jack Tuttle was in the audience. That’s when she sang The First Time I Fell in Love. The song has a verse about playing her first gig at Fandango Pizza Parlor in Palo Alto, California which is down the street from her parent’s home. Her Dad stood up in the middle of the crowd looking as proud as could be.
As the sun disappeared behind the rocks, Dwight Yoakam and his band The Bakersfield Beat started with the Carter Family classic Keep On The Sunny Side . Yoakam wore his signature tight jeans and low setting Stetson cowboy hat. Everyone else in his band was dressed in shiny blazers except the drummer who just sported a black vest (violating the band’s glittery dress code). Yoakam busted out his famous dance moves throughout the night including the Side Ways Moonwalk and the Left Leg Loosey-Goosey (there is a good possibility those are not the official names).
Yoakam played a number of Merle Haggard songs including The Bottle Let Me Down and Swinging Doors . The performer laughed about the irony of Willie Nelson’s favorite Haggard song being Okie From Muskogee . That’s when Yoakam sang, “We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee/We don’t take our trips on LSD/We don’t burn our draft cards down on Main Street/We like livin’ right, and bein’ free.”
The crowd cheered when guitar slinger Eugene Edwards played the famous opening notes of Little Sister (the song was a huge hit for Elvis Presley in 1961 and Dwight Yoakam in 1987). The encore was another Elvis song Suspicious Minds. Yoakam stated the lyrics perfectly described last year’s isolation as he sung, “We’re caught in a trap/I can’t walk out/Because I love you too much, baby.” When the band left the stage, Karolyn Larson from Wheeler, Wisconsin was beaming. Sadly, she didn’t catch another guitar pick for her collection.
If you watched the Ken Burns documentary Country Music – A Nashville Story, you know musician Ketch Secor has an extensive understanding of roots music. He has used that knowledge to form The Old Crow Medicine Show. The band played a variety of music such as the pre World War II folk song Humdinger, the gospel tune Gloryland, and even the Beastie Boy’s rap Fight For Your Right.
Senator John Hickenlooper and singer Amos Lee joined the band for the blues standard C.C. Rider (originally recorded by Ma Rainey in 1924). Hickenlooper strummed the banjo and even sang a verse. Wearing a Molly Tuttle t-shirt, Amos Lee (who headlined a few days later in Boulder, Colorado) also took a few verses making Secor overjoyed.
In the middle of the show, the band went to the front of the stage and gathered around one microphone. That’s when Cory Younts, who recorded and toured with Jack White, took center stage. He sang lead vocals on Tiger Ragtime where he showed off his high kicking dance moves. He also sang the perfectly fitting Honky Tonk Women by The Rolling Stones and dedicated it to the late Charlie Watts.
Towards the end of the evening, Molly Tuttle made another appearance. Ketch Secor and her sang the Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks duet Stop Dragging My Heart Around . Tuttle picked up the banjo for The Grateful Dead’s U.S. Blues. A crew member enthusiastically ran out with an American Flag as the band sang, “Wave that flag, wave it wide and high/Summertime done, come and gone, my, oh, my.” He handed over the flag to legendary Denver concert promoter Chuck Morris who quickly disappeared backstage. The song ended with the same crew member twirling a baton. I was exhausted just watching it.
See you at the next show. I’ll be in the one trying to catch a Dwight Yoakam guitar pick for Karolyn Larson from Wheeler, Wisconsin.