It was Lincoln, Nebraska, sometime in the mid-90s, sometime in the mid fall, when I ran into The Replacements guitarist Slim Dunlap. We had both played shows in the city that night and wound up at the same dank motel (where I’m certain every room at one time or another was a crime scene). My band mates and I sat and listened in awe as he spoke of rock ’n’ roll vampires, van fires, throwing up on the ceiling, throwing down, and other assorted sordid tales. It was here that he also imparted wisdom on our young, optimistic, impressionable minds. One nugget in particular: when you’re the support act on the bill, never, ever blow away the headliner.
I didn’t agree at all… and neither did John Kingla as he warmed up for Americana warbler Ana Egge at Abilene last night. Kingla’s set was velvety soft and captivating as he built gorgeous melodies atop stark and strident strums of his Tennessee flat top box. The place was cemetery silent, as opposed to the volume war some shows get caught in as both the band and the crowd wrestle for aural dominance. Kingla joined Egge on stage and added some tres cool atmospheric guitar full of out of phase T-Bone twang and a rich and righteous tremolo. Now ordinarily it’d be a safe bet that I’d go for the beautiful blonde with the nice getaway sticks, but Egge came off a little hollow and plain next to Kingla’s cool.