View Full Version : Tim O'Reagan / Jim Boquist / Marc Perlman @ The Cabooze - 2/7/08

sacred roots
02-17-2008, 01:58 AM
Back in the early 90s, Tim O’Reagan and Jim Boquist played a handful of shows in and around the Twin Cities as a quasi-folk duo. They were usually billed under a variety of less-than-imaginative names (“O’Reagan Boquist Band,” “Tim & Jim,” etc) and frequently appeared in out of the way venues (the Loring Bar??) with little notice or appeared as an unannounced support act at First Ave / 7th St Entry.

Well, Tim & Jim, along with Marc Perlman were in fact on the bill last Thursday at the Cabooze in Mpls for something called “Peace & War In The Heartland,” a poorly attended, low-key benefit for some organization i’d never heard of before. At one point in the midst of what turned out to be an absolutely delightful 10 song set, the fellas continued some fairly entertaining between song banter by entering into a discussion of what they should call themselves – “The Curmudgeons?”… “how ‘bout the Old Curmudgeons?”… “we’re kinda old.” For now, I’ll just call them “TJM.” Also appearing on the bill were two bands i was utterly unfamiliar with and Strange Lights (http://myspace.com/thestrangelights), the young, always interesting gang of space rockers who have been turning in some awfully interesting sets of late. As it turned out, TJM went on first, just about an hour after the doors opened at 7pm and after a perfunctory rally speech by an old Vietnam Vet who was living through the second great international tragedy in his lifetime that involves US armed forces. Strange Lights trippy jams were relegated to the end; the whole thing was over by 11 – a very reasonable finish time for a week night.

The crowd was mostly young and many appeared to be attached somehow to the two middle bands who i still know next to nothing about, even though i dutifully sat through both of their sets. There were a handful of people who seemed to be familiar with TJM, but i can honestly say that i barely recognized about 3 people there out of crowd that might have hit 100 at some point. I knew twice as many of the musicians as i did attendees.

I really didn’t have much of a clue as to what was gonna go down. I had a hunch that there would be plenty of Tim stuff, especially since his name had been on the bill the longest and, indeed, was the sole name listed on the marquee outside (not even the benefit org was shown!). That turned out to be the case, but boy oh boy, there were plenty of great offerings from Jim and Marc, too. After a few songs, i realized i was in the process of witnessing a great set, and i immediately rued the knowledge that the proceedings were going to be undocumented – at least in audio and visual terms. I’ve been so out of the habit of going to shows lately that i even stupidly forgot my digital camera – one of the more bone-headed things i’ve done in recent weeks. So, i sat there like a smiling low-tech fool, absorbing what turned out to be one of the best sets of local music i’ve seen in a long, long time.

The line-up was simplicity itself: Marc on electric bass, Tim on acoustic 6 string and harp, and Jim on electric 6 string. They all were sitting down, just like back in the old folky days. Lead vocals were rotated through the set and Tim and Jim (and sometimes Marc) contributed harmonies. Not surprisingly, these 3 old pals acquitted themselves flawlessly. Tim and Jim’s harmonies were superb throughout and Jim’s always sterling guitar work was especially memorable as he coaxed one beautiful lead after another out of his old hollow-body Gibson. After a few minutes, i was transported back in time to the old Tim and Jim magic from those days when Tim wasn’t quite a Jayhawk yet and Jim was in between memorable gigs with Joe Henry and Son Volt. Only this was even better thanks to Perlman’s contributions. According to Tim, this was, shockingly, the first time this particular line-up had appeared in public, amazing when you consider how much time these guys have spent together as their paths have repeatedly criss-crossed over the last 17 years. For trainspotters, it should be noted that this was, i believe, the first time Marc and Tim have shared a stage since a Jayhawks reunion at a First Ave. benefit back in September 2006. After the show, Tim said, “it sure felt good to play with Marc again,” something quite obvious to anyone in attendance who was paying attention.

It was especially thrilling to hear a couple of familiar classic Jayhawks songs cast in a different light, minus vocal contributions from Mark Olson and/or Gary Louris. On “Pray For Me,” Tim took the Mark part while Jimmy channeled Gary to a scary degree – singing the high notes and turning in a frighteningly good Byrdsian guitar line; it all resulted in an exquisite experience. Bone chilling stuff. Before “Pray For Me,” Tim said “we’re gonna do some more covers... here’s an old Jayhawks song,” the kind of statement that gets dissected in some of the more obsessive corners of the interwebs. The harmonies on “Tampa to Tulsa” were certainly more familiar -- Tim and Jim have honed this song to near perfection in the post-RDM years -- but this was certainly an interesting pair of “covers” for Jayhawks fans, providing compelling evidence that the Jayhawks legacy lives on even though the pieces of the puzzle get shifted around now and then.

Special mention should also be made of Boquist’s “Why,” a song once known to fans as “Muddy Shoulder.” During the recent Tim O’Reagan Band era, this song has flowered into a stunning thing of beauty. It’s got that classic timeworn feel that evokes nothing less than a lost Gene Clark masterpiece – just about the highest praise you could give someone, especially an old soul like Jim who clearly has an almost eerie spiritual connection to that special period of musical history. Speaking of which, the second song of the evening was another highlight of recent Tim O’Reagan live sets, the Gene Clark/Bernie Leadon classic, “Train Leaves Here This Morning,” a song popularized by the Eagles on their first album, but originally released in 1968 on The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard and Clark (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fantastic_Expedition_of_Dillard_%26_Clark), one of the most influential albums from that era, and a wellspring of inspiration (and cover songs) for a whole generation of “alt-country” / “Americana” artists in later years, including TJM, Gary Louris and just about every other musician with a modicum of taste who’s picked up a guitar over the last 3 decades.

There were some predictable familiar moments from recent O’Reagan shows, including “Pictures of Dad” and the always moving reading of Simon and Garfunkel’s “April Come Say You Will.” Perlman also tackled an old fave of his, The Only Ones’ “From Here to Eternity,” a rare treat that almost always shows up only at small-scale intimate gigs like the Mad Ripple Hootenanny.

The last two songs had a special glow that capped off the all too short but superb set. A rousing cover of the Velvet’s “What Goes On,” sung by Perlman and complete with some enthused acoustic guitar jam work at the end, fired up the appreciative but polite crowd. This was always a highlight on the occasions when Kraig Johnson and the Program (sometimes featuring Perlman) burned through it a few years back when they were one of the hottest live acts in town and it was a joy to hear this inspired reading as well. Finally, and an obvious choice for this event – if not this era – was Nick Lowe’s “What’s So Funny (‘bout Peace Love and Understanding)?” Perlman and his Golden Smog bandmates almost got to play this song 5 days earlier at a historic rally for Barack Obama in Minneapolis, but fell victim to time constraints. This time the peaceniks got a straight shot of this 35 year old anthem of hope, featuring vocals from everyone on stage. Right on!

Sometimes great sets can just pop up and smack you up side the head when you’re least expecting them which, of course, is one of the main things that drives live music heads to continually troll the waters out in Clubland for the next big strike. This was certainly the case at this strange gig. I felt like i was in a different town and, at times, a different decade. Hopefully, we’ll get to see a reprise of this old new magic very soon.

Tim O’Reagan / Jim Boquist / Marc Perlman
“Peace and Love in the Heartland” benefit
February 7, 2008
The Cabooze – Minneapolis, MN

1. River Bends
2. Train Leaves Here This Morning
3. Pray For Me
4. Tampa to Tulsa
5. From Here to Eternity
6. Why
7. Pictures of Dad
8. April Come Say You Will
9. What Goes On
10. What’s So Funny (‘bout Peace, Love and Understanding)?

Tim O’Reagan – acoustic guitar, harp, lead and background vocals
Jim Boquist – electric guitar, lead and background vocals
Marc Perlman – electric bass, lead and background vocals

02-17-2008, 06:08 AM
Roots man, that review is simply awesome, thank you very much for taking the time with such cool detail. :D

02-17-2008, 06:12 AM
Roots man, that review is simply awesome, thank you very much for taking the time with such cool detail. :D

+1, as always, thanks so much for your incredible input and insights, SR!

02-17-2008, 06:22 AM
Great write up PD and such an awesome album to reference too. Dillard and Clark! Brilliant stuff!

Precious Time
02-17-2008, 10:45 AM
Nice review, thanks

I have some great Tim&Jim live recordings from their 2007 European tour but they're not keen on circulating them on the internet. Kinda wonder why because any exposure they can get is a plus for these guys. I discussed this with Jim but he was more concerned about possible 'mistakes' he made during these live shows. Too bad, really.