Caroline Herring / Little Country Giants, Eddies Attic, Decatur, GA- 5/5
Today, corporate America namely Corona ad execs, made it difficult to ignore an effectively marketed Cinco de Mayo, the most misunderstood holiday on the gringo calendar. Despite the urge to run for the border, or at least drive-thru, I was in downtown Decatur (Atlanta’s best-kept secret) before the sun went down to immerse myself in antique Americana.
Eddie’s Attic is a venue for intent listening audiences and able artists that deliver in immediately intimate settings. Seriously, some of you have living rooms larger than this quaint Southern space with a lemon wedge window. It’s no secret that the careers of folks like John Mayer and The Black Crowes owe a debt of gratitude to the revered room.
Despite experiencing undeniable success in Austin, where she enjoyed an extended Thursday night residency at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q and was named Best New Artist by the Austin American-Statesman in 2002, Caroline Herring relocated to Atlanta. She was modest and unassuming during her set, smiling occasionallyexuding a bookish, horn-rimmed and somewhat sensual librarian quality. Herring and her guitar are alone on stage, in the spotlightdusk disappearing into night outside that little window. Appropriately, her folk songs are stories born of loneliness and nostalgic glimpses into dark corners of the past. This recipe was evidenced during “MGM Grand” as the narrator left Las Vegas, in a coach seat on a discount carrier, she bemoaned, “The MGM Grand could steal the heart of a man, but the one next to me, gives me mine back again.”
The music performed by Little Country Giants dates to an era where cowboys were becoming an endangered species—but well before Nashville endorsed drawstring linen pants, highlighted hair, and expensive porcelain teeth. Unapologetically Appalachian and unashamed in sadness, the band; composed of Joseph Evans (lead guitar), Russell Cook (mandolin, vocals, guitar), Cameron Cook (upright bass, vocals), Julie Evans (backup vocals), and on this evening (for the first time live) Jim Kirkland (fiddle), preserves the poetry of a disappearing rural America.
Their hour on stage expired much too quicklybut before they departed to a sincere (and extended) ovation they provided a series of memorable moments.
During the bluesy shuffle “Something To Be Proud Of” Mr. Evans flat-pickin’ on a tiny terz guitar becomes the dusty trail Mr. Cook struts down while boasting, “I have a reason to be excited / to comb my hair and shine my shoes / no ladies linger outside my doorstep / to hear me sing my old lonesome blues.” As the song blossoms, with Kirkland’s sullen fiddle solo and the dual female vocal harmonies during the chorus, we hold out a shred of hope for contemporary country music.
“Breaking Hearts & Living Free” (the title track of their 2005 independent release) closed out the set, and Mrs. Cook navigated the neck of her doghouse bass with a thousand yard stare and sang, “Don’t let somebody else love you / somebody else don’t love you, I do.” As tears well in several eyes, it’s evident to most that we’ve witnessed an incomparable slice of melancholy Americana.