Dirk Hamilton Live at the Palms

By David Watts Barton, No Depression, March 1, 2001

The hard rain that fell on the rusting roof of the old Palms Playhouse set an appropriate tone for the often dark, tough songs of veteran singer-songwriter Dirk Hamilton, who has been making records full of detailed, rustic songs since 1976. His performance gave extra poignancy to two lines sung early on: “When a man falls in the city/You know it doesn’t make a sound.” Indeed, Hamilton’s time in the spotlight has come and gone.

But his 23-song set on acoustic guitar with occasional harmonica embellishments, plus accompaniment from acoustic bassist David Hayes of Van Morrison’s band, demonstrated that being widely heard isn’t a patch on being deeply felt, or profoundly appreciated.

Cheered on by 50 or so die-hard fans (including his mother), who seemed to know the details of every song of this native son, Hamilton gave a performance full of heart and soul. He and Hayes drove through stripped-down versions of his songs from his major-label heyday in the ’70s, but focused on songs from the string of independently released albums he recorded since moving to Austin a decade ago.

Hamilton’s songs benefited from the minimal settings. Shorn of the albums’ embellishments, which have too often made him sound like an imitation of Springsteen, Dylan and Morrison, a few numbers came across as the work of one of those greats’ peers. This was particularly true on recent ballads such as “New Earth Suit”, a song for his son, and “Heroes (Maybe)”, its distinctive lyricism revealing Hamilton’s voice as a writer as well as a singer. Tough yet gentle, he comes across as a man whose pleasures have been as hard-won as they are modest.

At other times, he was sheer exuberance personified, joking with Hayes and the crowd, charging through songs such as “Jesus, The Devil And You” and the punning “My Dead Body”, in which he describes finding a corpse floating in a canal near his house. Through it all, he radiated a cheer that warmed the chilly barn and finally sent the small but emotionally fortified crowd into the chilly night.

http://nodepression.com/live-review/dirk-hamilton-palms-playhouse-davis-ca

Comments Off on Dirk Hamilton Live at the Palms

Reply...

Comments Off on Dirk Hamilton Live at the Palms

READ POST

Jul 8, 2020

I wrote a song a long time ago, never really performed, a samba called “Choosing Lonely.” It was about feeling lonely, specifically lonely for love, but in my typically analytical mind-set, I framed it as a choice: It’s all in how you see it: Choosing/To be lonely/When you’re only alone/That’s a foolish game… That came […]

READ POST

Jul 6, 2020

Who hasn’t seen it and wanted it? For whom is such a vision not inspiring?  What is it about a house on a hill?  My whole life I’ve heard stories about men meeting particular women and telling a friend, “I just met the woman I’m going to marry.” Sometimes in life there is that certainty. […]

READ POST

Jul 3, 2020

There are many ways in which I am a typical American, and there are ways in which I am a hyper-American: My love of personal freedom is an example. Now, everyone loves their freedom in the abstract, or in concrete ways like freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom to own assault rifles… But besides […]

recent blog posts

read more about david

Thank you for checking out my blog - it’s just the tip of the iceberg.  I am working on projects regarding music history, Japanese culture and my songwriting.

- A week-by-week music history website, music1967.com
- An upcoming book on Japanese culture, Japan from Anime to Zen
- A YouTube channel, featuring random songs and thoughts for the pandemic
- Original music on Spotify, with links to Patreon and Amazon 

David Watts Barton

Submit Form

Wherever I am in the world, I am reachable by email. Please just fill the form below and I’ll get back to you pronto! 

davidwattsbarton@gmail.com

Thank you for getting in touch.
We will reply to you within 24 hours.

Contact DAVID