The Blue Dogs

Live at the Florence Little Theater

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Live at the Florence Little Theater Review

by Alex Henderson

Some artists go their entire careers without providing a live album; for others, live albums are a rarity--something you might get around to after you have 10 or 15 studio albums under your belt. But the Blue Dogs do more live recording than most bands; Live at the Florence Little Theater is their seventh album, and it is also their third live album. Documenting a May 16, 1998 gig at the Florence Little Theater in Florence, SC, this 74-minute CD paints a generally attractive picture of the band's live show. The Blue Dogs' roots rock, country-rock and southern rock performances are derivative--no one will accuse them of being innovators--but they are also sincere and, more often than not, inspired. To the Blue Dogs' credit, this concert is fairly unpredictable. Embracing both covers (including the Grateful Dead's "On the Road Again") and original material, they successfully fluctuate between intimate acoustic (or at least semi-acoustic) performances and a more rockin' electric format. The Blue Dogs let it rip on "Walls Come Down" and "Instant Armadillo Blues," but get into more of an unplugged groove on intimate performances like "Grandma's Stranger," "I'd Give Anything" and "Lazy Man." One thing that works well for the southerners is using different combinations of musicians on different songs. Eight players take the stage; half of them are full-time band members (Bobby Houck, Hank Futch, Greg Walker and David Stewart), while the others are part of the Blue Dogs' extended family of players (including singer/guitarist Phillip Lamonds, who is especially memorable on his humorous country-rock number "The Way Back"). Not perfect but usually pleasing, this CD makes one glad that the Blue Dogs don't spend all of their time in the studio.

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