Written by Bill Whiting – [email protected]
Beginning with “Roadsong #39” from their acclaimed new release, Good To Be, Backyard Tire Fire was making the most of their first headlining spot at Newport, Kentucky’s Southgate House on March 26. Ed and Matt Anderson held down the guitar duties on lead electric and bass, respectively, while Tim Kramp bashed away aggressively on drums. Reaching back to 2007’s Vagabonds & Hooligans project, BTF lurched into a tasty, slicing take on “Undecided.” That was enough to have the patrons dancing on the floor, and the brothers’ Anderson found an edgy counterpoint to another track from Good To Be, “Estelle.” Delivering a raw rock attack has become the ritual that Backyard Tire Fire engages in at any gig, and on a late March night it took the form of Neil Young’s classic stomper, “Cinnamon Girl.” The title song from Good To Be had the audience singing back towards the stage, and Ed Anderson introduced a surprising cover of The Traveling Wilbury’s “Handle With Care,” which BTF pulled off in a majestic fashion. The most popular composition and high point of the night was the radio ready song, “Estelle,” from Good To Be, yet it was Kramp’s underplaying rhythms that stole the spotlight during the band’s extended improvisational jam. Ending the evening with the Carl Montgomery/ Earl Green standard that was a favorite of endless amounts of touring performers, including Steve Earle, the Flying Burrito Brothers, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and, more recently, Mudcrutch, Backyard Tire Fire launched into their encore, blazing new directions on the rousing sing a long, “Six Days on the Road.” It was the perfect ending to a glorious night of great music, inspired performances, and partying with all the close friends of Illinois’ Backyard Tire Fire.