Live: Hayes Carll shares songs for mothers, kind of

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Hayes Carll, Travis Linville
Southland Ballroom, Raleigh
Sunday, May 11, 2014


Playing an intimate Mother’s Day evening show at Southland Ballroom to a smattering of mothers, grandmothers, couples and just plain dudes, Hayes Carll acknowledged that he didn’t have many songs appropriate for the occasion. Early on, he offered “Grateful for Christmas,” one of a few that, as Carll said, happened to mention his mom but wasn’t necessarily about her. “Let me finish out the ‘mom genre,’ then we’ll get on to the songs about drugs and sex and weapons to really celebrate Mother’s Day,” he said, only half-joking. Still, the bittersweet holiday number—graced by Travis Linville’s dobro—was one of several cuts that touched on heartfelt family ties.

Carll’s clever songwriting and husky voice had the perfect support through the trio format of his Gulf Coast Orchestra. Versatile percussionist Mike Meadows made the most out of a simple three-piece kit, while Linville’s guitar licks imparted a twang to “My Baby Took My Baby From Me” and “One Bed, Two Girls, Three Bottles Of Wine.”

Carll deftly moved through the various aspects of his catalog, balancing sweetness with tongue-in-cheek humor and a dose of raunchiness. He interspersed his music with background stories, too, introducing the terrific Ray Wylie Hubbard co-write “Drunken Poet’s Dream” with a tale of winning a gun raffle while performing at a bar in Beaumont, Texas. He agonized over which model to choose as his first weapon. Ragged harmonies and stinging electric guitar ensured that the song was as much of a highlight as the story.

Even couched among his cruder material, Carll remained poignant in regards to his family. For instance, the songwriter initially discouraged his then-six-year-old son’s interest in performing magic. He’s since been inspired by the boy’s persistence—and his ability to find paying gigs at the age of 10. The preface served “The Magic Kid” well.



Linville led off the night with a half-hour set of simple solo folk tunes, backed by deliberate guitar strums and wheezy harmonica. He flashed some fine fingerpicking on a cover of Chuck Brodsky’s “Lefty,” a ballad of a veteran southpaw pitcher. The Oklahoma troubadour’s are plain but earnest, whether inspired by his son, his travels on the road or the 2008 British documentary Man on Wire. Little mention of moms, though.

Travis Linville, "Shoulder to the Wheel"


Hayes Carll, "Winning Gun Raffle & Drunken Poet's Dream"


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