Reviewer Johannes H. Seefahrer writes
in Adult Saloon Music Quarterly, Vol 1., No. 2, July
2004, of the July 28,
2004 Ark performance:
Last night it all came together - the sound, site, sights, songs, audience,
and costs. For a paltry $11 ticket this reviewer was treated to a great
performance by Michael Smith and the Cadillac Cowboys at the Ark in Ann
Resplendent in Hawaiian shirts, Alan Pagliere, Gary Munce, Hugh Huntley,
Jim Larzalere, Michael Smith, and Pete Falkenstein (wearing a virtual Hawaiian
shirt as his real one remained in Las Vegas - as surety?) performed wonderful
old favorites and several new songs.
Michael opened with San Antonio Rose, a fine tradition, still fresh and
invigorating after 30 years. Silky smooth resonant voice; smile to light
up the room; obvious pleasure in performing. Professionalism!
Pete's piano playing has never sounded better. His awesome keyboard fluency
and pyrotechnics, coupled with his rich big-city-blues voice, make one yearn
for a dance floor and a willing partner to fling about. Ahh "Sweet Home
Speaking of sound, it was superb. What a treat to clearly hear all voices
and each instrument. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.
Alan's steel playing just gets better and better. Where does he find the
time to get so bloody good? The pedal steel is, after all, an impossible
instrument to play, what with ten foot pedals, 8, 10, or 12 strings, four
knee levers, and a volume pedal. Like color TV and cryonics - it's just
impossible. His vocal styling and phrasing remain constant, i.e.,
superb. Hey, I'll take a 6-pack to go anytime.
Gary's exuberant "Route 66" is always a rousing tribute to that history-rich
highway. The highway may be disappearing, and more and more grass is poking
through the concrete, but Gary's raucous tribute to it remains.
Jim, the newest member of the band, exhibited his vocal stylings for the
first time (to this reviewer's ears). That, and his solid rockabilly electric
guitar, was a treat!
Hugh, as all drummers do, sits unassumingly in back of the band, but continues
to righteously keep the beat, adds subtle but important riffs to each song,
and, every now and then takes a solo, reminding everyone just how good he
[Ed. note] Clearly the above review was written in a fervor of adulation since,
in my experience, this reviewer is well-known for abjuring saccarine, in food,
conversation, literature, science, T.V., movies, music, or testimony.
Local reviewer, and erstwhile dobro player John Sayler wrote, in the Mythical Steel Review, Vol. 1, No. 1 as follows:
The Cadillac Cowboys endeared themselves once again to a large crowd of Ann Arborites at their Top of the Park concert last night. Highlights of the event, listed in no particular order (since this reviewer has just arisen and his brain resembles a nest of wood shavings) include:
-- The clean beauty of Alan Pagliere's new pedal steel guitar;
-- Michael Smith's declaration of the type of music the band plays as "adult saloon music";
-- An unbelievably artistic and evocative break by Mr. Pagliere on "Angel from Montgomery";
Previous performances by the Cadillac Cowboys at the Top of the Park have always been marred by the poor quality of the sound system. Hitherto, listeners were forced to extrapolate from the actual sound to the real sound; the experience was like viewing a 72 dpi JPEG on an 8.5 x 11 printout. Although Michael's voice was recognizable, understandable, and clear from the beginning (a first at that venue), the sound of the rest of the band, for the first 30 minutes of last night's performance, mirrored previous performances in that venue. It has always been vexing that one could see the musicians having a good time, and occasionally hear some fine notes, the overall sound quality from the speakers was muddy and indistinct, and the mixing aberrant.
However, mirabile dictu, the mixing and volume improved significantly with time after the first 30 minutes, so that for the last 40 minutes the sound was mainly fabulous. (The only fault, to this reviewer, was that the volulme of Pete's piano never achieved parity with the rest of the band, so that even his hard-driving songs had a muted sound.) Especially notable over that last 40 minutes was the clarity and volume of both Alan's steel, Jim's guitar, and Alan's vocal mike. What a great treat to finally hear all of the words when Alan delivers his superb vocal renditions.
In conclusion, 'twas a fine, fine performance. Everyone's musical skills and professionalism were on display last night, the sound system was finally (for a good while) right, and clearly all enjoyed the gig. Huzzah for the Cadillac Cowboys!
The August, 2000 edition of Current
has a review by Mark Ziemba in the Livewires
section of The Cowboys' June gig at the Top of
the Park Festival:
Before riding off into the sunset for another year,
Michael Smith & His Cadillac Cowboys helped kick
off the Ann Arbor Summer Festival's Top of the Park
with a bang, tearing through blues, honky-tonk country,
and rock 'n' roll covers with unbridled abandon. Whether
they were galloping down "Route 66" to get
to Fats Domino's "Blueberry Hill" or rounding
up the kids to dance for the "Peppermint Twist,"
these tall riders recalled the heyday of their popular
local watering hole, Mr. Flood's Party. They've even
lassoed their first CD, containing favorites sure
to tide fans over until next year.
Ha! As if the Cowboys are playing just once a year
anymore (as they did during those swing-lean late 80's
and early 90's)! Look for the Cowboys gigging