Sunday, July 7, 2019

Russ Tolman and Dime Box Band at The Federal Bar, 7-7-19 Concert Review

Russ Tolman performing "Yuba City"
I’ve come to really love and appreciate these Sunday morning concerts at The Federal Bar, and to rely on them for an enjoyable break from the current horror show plaguing our nation. The Mimosa Music Series features not only good folks on stage, but good folks in the audience, and good folks serving the mimosas. A comfortable, friendly atmosphere is created every time. If you’ve attended any of these shows, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Today the series continued with an excellent double bill of Russ Tolman and Dime Box Band, both of whom have new releases out now.

Dime Box Band was on first. At 11:35 a.m., Mimosa Music Series host Gary Calamar introduced them, and they got right into it, kicking off their set with “All Or Nothing,” the lead-off track from their new album, Happy, which was released on July 1st. It’s a good, upbeat tune featuring some nice harmonies. After that song, lead vocalist Kristi Callan joked about the early hour, and how she knew some of the audience was out very late last night. Dime Box Band had played a late set at Cinema Bar, and several people in attendance at The Federal Bar had been at that show too. Dime Box Band’s set focused on the new album, and they followed “All Or Nothing” with “What Went Wrong,” a sweet country tune featuring some good stuff by Lyn Bertles on fiddle and by James Nolte on electric guitar, and then “As The Crow Flies,” its sound having a positive, uplifting vibe. From the new album, they also played “Keystone,” a song about the pipeline, and “Happy,” the album’s title track. In introducing “Happy,” Kristi mentioned that she appreciated the addition of planes to the pictures of the Revolutionary War, following another crazy and ignorant comment from Donald Trump. “Why not be happy, right?” And indeed, I love the humorous, playful approach in responding to and dealing with some of Donald Trump’s bullshit (but it’s difficult to maintain that positive attitude for very long). “Happy” featured a good lead on violin. And speaking of Trump, Dime Box Band also played “Everybody Lies,” with Kristi dedicating it to “those out there who tend to lie sometimes.” That one is a fun country number. They followed that with a cover of “Amanda Ruth,” a song written by Tony Kinman and Chip Kinman, and one that The Everly Brothers included on Born Yesterday, an excellent album. It’s a great rocking song, and Dime Box Band did a wonderful job with it. They concluded their set with “Cotton Pickin’,” a song from the band’s 2008 release, Five And Dime Waltz. Their set ended at 12:19 p.m.

Dime Box Band drummer Nick Vincent had mentioned that it’s Ringo Starr’s birthday, and when Gary Calamar returned to the stage to introduce Russ Tolman, he too mentioned it, saying that Ringo Starr had asked for everyone to say “Peace and love” at noon today. It was 12:32 p.m., and Gary pointed out that we missed the moment, but could say it anyway. Why not? Then Russ Tolman took the stage. “Good evening,” he said. “Or afternoon. Or morning.” He then got right to the music, opening his set with “Los Angeles,” the lead-off track from his new album, Goodbye El Dorado. This featured some nice work on accordion. “Los Angeles, I beg you please/Take care of her.” Both Dime Box Band and Russ Tolman opened their sets with the lead-off tracks from their new releases, but Russ Tolman then followed his with his album’s second track, “Kid.” “So this is the new album I have,” he said before starting that song. And indeed, his set featured the album’s music played in order. “Kid” featured some good work by Kirk Swan on electric guitar, particularly toward the end. That was followed by “North Hollywood Dream,” a sweet song that mentions Lankershim Blvd., the street The Federal Bar is on. You can’t get much more local than that, eh? But my favorite line is “You’re finally in L.A., let the dreaming begin.” The album is all about California, mostly about Los Angeles, and if there is one thing that all residents of this great city agree on, it is that driving on the 405 highway sucks. In “405,” Russ sings, “Morning noon or night/Any time you drive, the traffic’s never light/Four Oh Five, you’re really gonna piss me off.” This one featured some good work on keys. After “Goodbye El Dorado,” the title track, Russ joked, “If it was vinyl, we’d be flipping over the record.” And indeed, that was the fifth of ten tracks (not including the disc’s final three tunes, which are listed as bonus tracks). “Goodbye El Dorado” was followed by “Yuba City” and then “California Winter.” “Do You Like The Way” is a fun number. I am particularly delighted by the line “Do you like the way you look in this song.” He followed that with another of the set’s highlights, “Almost Heaven,” a pretty song. Before the last song of his set, “Take It Easy, Take It Slow,” Russ thanked the audience, saying, “It’s been fun.” He then quickly added: “For me. I don’t know about for you.” Oh yes, it was certainly fun for me. “Take It Easy, Take It Slow” is a favorite of mine. The encore was “Satellite Bar,” one of the songs listed as bonus tracks on the CD, a fun rock tune. “Good night,” Russ said afterward. He then quickly corrected himself: “Or goodbye. It’s nap time.” The show ended at 1:30 p.m.

Russ Tolman’s Set List
  1. Los Angeles
  2. Kid
  3. North Hollywood Dream
  4. 405
  5. Goodbye El Dorado
  6. Yuba City
  7. California Winter
  8. Do You Like The Way
  9. Almost Heaven
  10. Take It Easy, Take It Sow
Encore
  1. Satellite Bar
Here are a few photos from the show:

Dime Box Band performing "What Went Wrong"
"What Went Wrong"
"Mountain" 
Russ Tolman performing "Goodbye El Dorado"
"Do You Like The Way"
"Almost Heaven"
"Satellite Bar"

The Federal Bar is located at 5303 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood, California.

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