Smile Politely

Mondays with Cory

“It’s good to be back in the ‘Paign.” — Cory Chisel

It was a quiet Monday night at Cowboy Monkey, as Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons swung through town en route to Chicago for a day-before-the-CD-release-show show. Death Won’t Send a Letter drops today on Black Seal, but several local devotees picked up their copies last night, as the band put on, by turns, a rollicking and laid-back show.

Leading things off was Noah Harris (above), who’s a guitarist in the Wandering Sons, but played melancholy solo keyboard tunes on this evening. The song introductions were often the highlight, which included a dedication to Roman Polanski and another where he gauged the audiences fluency before launching into a song in French — Harris later explained that he didn’t speak the language and his co-writer had penned the lyrics, so he didn’t want to embarrass himself by mispronouncing anything.

Joshua James isn’t as blurry in person as he appears above. He actually reminded me of Johnny Depp in the “Into the Great Wide Open” video (compared and contrast below):

The Lincoln, Nebraska, native started off with John Prine-flavored acoustic number and closed with a mini-suite of “Coal War” and a rollicking cover of the Doors’ “People are Strange.” It was great stuff overall, with James’ high lonesome voice telling tales of religion gone wrong, heartache, and other such fertile ground with the capable accompaniment of his band.

This was my first Cory Chisel experience, and it was a satisfying one. The Wandering Sons proved versatile, transitioning from ruminative acoustic songs to bar band-worthy country-rock with ease. The video below is of the first single off the new album, “Born Again,” co-written with Brandon Brendan Benson (of the Raconteurs), which will be the song of choice when Cory and Sons play on the Jimmy Fallon show October 9th:

Chisel seemed a little frustrated with the quiet crowd, saying, “Most of the time people won’t shut the fuck up when we play these songs,” at one point as the band played the majority of Death Won’t Send a Letter, but the faithful got more into it when they closed the set with a couple of old favorites.

Good stuff, especially for a Monday night.

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