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Joe Ely and Joel Guzman - Live Cactus

Live Cactus

Joe Ely and Joel Guzman

Rack 'Em Records - RER CD 003

Available from The Connextion.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Bob Gottlieb

This disc, which was recorded live at the Cactus Café in Austin, Texas, has some of the clearest and cleanest sound of any live disc that comes to memory. It is just the two of them, Joe on guitar and lead vocals, and Joel on accordion and backup vocals, except for the last song where Ryan Bingham joins them on vocals. They somehow capture the energy of the show, which is fueled of course by the audience, however in this case the energy flows more from the genuine joy these two have for playing together. It is this joy and love of what they are doing that propels this disc and separates it from so many others. Joe has been known since his time in the Flatlanders as a man to mix his musical influences, and they are wide and varied; stretching from Outlaw Country to traditional Tex-Mex, to The Blues and good old Rock N' Roll. He blends these influences until a rich and saucy musical gumbo is the result. It is a tasty stew that is rich and totally fulfilling, whether played by one of his electric groups, of in an acoustic mix like this disc. Ely is known for his live shows, and his leave no drop of sweat in the body attitude, to let it all fly and the devil take the hindmost portion.

Most of the songs are written by Joe Ely, there is one by Townes Van Zandt, one by Butch Hancock, and one by Handy Banks, and all the songs are associated with a typical Joe Ely show. Nothing new but the treatment of songs in the hands of these two is stunning. The sound quality as noted is excellent and the musicianship is nonpareil; listening to some of Mr Ely's older material, it isn't that these are new arrangements, it is just that they are played with such a sheer joy and high powered energy that the songs sound new or refreshed. A stunning disc, don't let it slide by you.

Track List:

  • Up On The Ridge
  • Slow You Down
  • Because Of The Wind
  • All Just To Get To You
  • Miss Bonnie And Mr.Clyde
  • Letter To Laredo
  • Where Is My Love
  • Ranches and Rivers
  • All That YOu Need
  • Wind's Gonna Blow You Away
  • Maybe She'll Find Me
  • I'm A Thousand Miles From Home
  • White Freightliner Blues

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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