I picked up Bobby Bare Jr‘s “Young Criminals Starvation League” shortly after it came out in the summer of 2002. That summer, on a road trip with two brothers from Oklahoma and some other friends, I slipped it in the cd player. It did not get their down home, country seal of approval. It probably wasn’t the best atmosphere for the album’s musical playfulness and wry humor. But I loved it and when, on our first trip to SXSW in 2003, he was listed to play Buffalo Billiards, we weren’t going to miss him. We went with open expectations and walked out completely blown away. Like a high speed collision of Hew Haw, The Replacements, and Pixies circa “Surfer Rosa,” Bobby Bare Jr was our savior of rock ‘n roll that night. As he aptly sang, “If rock and roll dies it’s not my fault.” Since then, between SXSW and his touring through Boston, I’ve managed to catch him almost twice a year. The band has rotated, including seasoned pros to scrappy punks, and always with heavy, rock solid drummers. Interpretations of the songs have matched the band at hand and the passion and spirit has never disappointed. Unfortunately, Bobby Bare Jr won’t be at SXSW this year but if you’re lucky, you may catch him on his house party tour. This is the loudest version of “Valentine” I could find.
Oh, and if you didn’t pick up “A Storm A Tree My Mother’s Head,” released last year, get it – I think it’s his best yet.