Mike Doughty brings his Question Jar Show to Cave Creek, AZFeb 28, 2010 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in MusicThe Bottom Line See him if he comes to your area. It's not often that someone who has an international fanbase will do something this intimate.
Having been a fan of Brooklyn's Mike Doughty (former Soul Coughing singer) since 2005, and having bought most of his albums in that time, I had been waiting for a long time to get to see him in person. Well, February 27, 2010 was the day the wait ended. Mike Doughty brought his popular Question Jar show to Cave Creek, which is a touristy cowboy town about 20 miles northeast of Phoenix. It appears I wasn't the only person that was waiting for a live appearance, as around 250 people or so packed tightly into the Buffalo Chip Saloon & Steakhouse for a fun night of acoustic rock music. The show was originally scheduled to be at the venue at Cave Creek Coffee Company (or C4 as the locals call it) down the street, but depending on who you speak to, it was either moved due to rain or because they simply oversold and didn't anticipate the demand would be so high.
Regardless of how one looks at it, the show started on time and Brooklyn's Christina Courtin came on stage to do an opening set. I had never heard of her before, so I didn't know what to expect. She had a high, kind of scratchy voice and played violin when she wasn't singing. Her accompanying guitarist (his first name is Ryan; I unfortunately don't remember his last name) did some background and harmony vocals and he was very good. Ryan was also able to do one of his originals during the set; Christina harmonized during this one. Christina's set included several songs from her debut self-titled album ("Green Jay", "Foreign Country", "One Man Down"), some older tunes she had previously written ("Blue Collar Man" and "Varsity"), and as mentioned, one of Ryan's originals titled "Ebb and Flow". There were maybe one or two more; I can't remember the titles of them, sorry.
After her set was over, no time was wasted in getting things set up for Mike Doughty. His band member and duo partner Andrew "Scrap" Livingston did a sound check and then gave instructions and information regarding the Question Jar. Doughty's set began close to 8 PM, with a nice version of "Tremendous Brunettes", available on his 2005 album Haughty Melodic. A rare live rendition of Golden Delicious's "Like a Luminous Girl" followed. It was more subdued and dour sounding than on the album. Several of his songs do, actually. "Busting Up a Starbucks" followed "Luminous Girl", and it was as great as it's ever been.
The first round of questions from the Question Jar came after "Busting". The Question Jar works like this: Write (just about) anything on a little piece of paper and stick it in the jar. Mike and Scrap will do their best to answer them during breaks in the set. This lack of rules leads to some very random and strange questions being asked. However, it leads to funny (and occasionally potentially offensive) banter. One such question in the first round was "Which song has the best guitar solo of all time?".
Mike's answer: "Stairway to Heaven. Yeah, I f***in' said it! There's kids in the front row, but that was just a warning. There will be a lot of f***'s tonight!".
This cycle of two or three songs and another round of questions went on for the remainder of the show. The second set of three songs were "Put It Down", "White Lexus" and then "Sunken-Eyed Girl". Unfortunately with the Question Jar, along with the funny questions there are some lame ones too, and that leads to either boring or not so good answers. This happened during round two of questions, and again later on.
The first two songs from Mike's latest album Sad Man Happy Man came next; "(You Should Be) Doubly (Gratified)" and a very rare live performance of "Year of the Dog". "Doubly Gratified" has the catchiness and repetitiveness of the songs on his album Golden Delicious, and "Year of the Dog" is reminiscent of songs featured on his first solo album Skittish. Other new songs played at the show were "(I Want To) Burn You (Down)", "Pleasure On Credit" (by request), "Nectarine (Part Two)" and "(I Keep On) Rising Up".
Also played included rarities in Rockity Roll's "40 Grand In the Hole" and Mike's cover of Drink Me's "Train to Chicago", as well as fan favorites "Madeline and Nine", "Unsingable Name", "Looking At the World From the Bottom of a Well" and "27 Jennifers", and interesting versions of "Down on the River By the Sugar Plant" and "I Hear the Bells" with Scrap playing electric guitar instead of his normal cello. The latter song had an extended solo, by the way.
By far the best question of the night was saved for next to last. It was also one of mine. I asked Mike what was the strangest place he's ever done a show. His answer? "Well actually, there's this cowboy bar in Cave Creek, AZ...". He continued and hilarity ensued.
Post-show, I made my way to the merchandise table. Mike was there sigining things and he signed my Sad Man Happy Man cover. In addition I bought a copy of the show and he also signed one of the discs that came with that. I was able to tell him how long I'd waited to see him play and I got a handshake too. I did want to tell him how his music has influenced my own work and I intended to do that, but the place was packed and it was quite cramped up there. Oh well. Hopefully there's a next time and it's sooner rather than later.
Mike's full set:
Like a Luminous Girl
Busting Up a Starbucks
(Question Rd. 1)
Put It Down
(Question Rd. 2)
(You Should Be) Doubly (Gratified)
Year of the Dog
(Question Rd. 3)
Shunned + Falsified - Mike solo
(I Want To) Burn You (Down)
(Question Rd. 4)
Madeline and Nine
Pleasure On Credit
(Question Rd. 5)
40 Grand In the Hole - Mike solo
Down on the River By the Sugar Plant
I Hear the Bells
(Question Rd. 6)
I Just Want the Girl In the Blue Dress to Keep on Dancing
Nectarine (Part Two)
(I Keep On) Rising Up
Train to Chicago
Looking At the World From the Bottom of a Well
(Fake Encore Break and Question Rd. 7)
Mike Doughty - Haughty Melodic (2005)
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