Broken haiku

I’d never heard of Sam Baker, though I listen to “Cyprus Avenue” pretty regularly. (For any out of towners, that’s Bill Shapiro’s great Saturday music show on KCUR, our gem of a public radio station in Kansas City.) But some friends had tickets and asked my wife and me along to Sam Baker’s show Saturday at the Folly Theater (our beautifully restored, 112-year-old gem of a venue). I’m so grateful I got to see him. Quite a moving show, by a unique talent. A little haiku tribute:

Sam Baker sings it
Plain, plaintive, talking on pitch
A hushed, dusty twang

Sam Baker plays it
Plucked notes set the atmosphere
For tales to unfold

Sam Baker writes it
Cut, bloodied, scarred — mosaics
From life’s shattered shards

Sam Baker knows it
Meaning’s elusive amid
The beauty and pain

Sam Baker sees it
The smallest details reveal
Emotions so deep

Sam Baker lives it
Stories that haunt, love that heals
Though we’re so broken

Dave Alvin’s Folly show, redux

Another great thing about 11-11-11 is it’s the birthday of Blasters’ alum and rockin’ blues man Dave Alvin. His latest album — “Eleven Eleven” — is his 11th and has 11 songs on it. I had the pleasure of catching him at the Folly this summer, and of trying to capture some of the flavor and feeling of that show with these. The YouTube clip is from the same tour. And these are followed by a couple of other concert batches — for a Sarah Jarosz show and the Concert for Bangladesh.

From July 9

Dave Alvin hits town
It’s American music
Rock, rhythm, and blues

He writes those stories
So real — of love, death, heartbreak
Of people he’s known

He sings those stories
Cigarettes-for-breakfast voice
And beer for dessert

He plays those stories
Electric and acoustic
With scorpion’s sting

You can taste the dust
See the waves of heat rise up
As he spins those tales

Waves of emotion
Build and crash — great work by Dave
And his three band-mates:

Silver-haired shaman
Of slide; Telecaster set
To “telepathic”

Bass man slick and tall
He could’ve been a Blaster
30 years ago

Powerhouse drummer
All the little touches, too
Like tick-tock woodblock

They rocked the Folly
KC’s century-plus gem
Right place, righteous act

It all added up
To one whale of a show on
A hot July night