REVIEW: Ry Cooder @ Great American Music Hall, SF 9/1/11

Our friend Ryan Matteson from Muzzle of Bees was in SF this past week for work and joined me for a beer at my local watering hole, but sadly I wasn’t able to join him for the Ry Cooder show at Great American Music Hall last night. Knowing that Ryan has impeccable taste in music and I’m unfamiliar with Cooder’s catalog, I asked him to put together some thoughts from the show and here’s what he sent our way…Photo via @jamesdamnbrown from 8/31/11.

Some artists have an allure about them that makes getting the chance of seeing them perform live seem a bit surreal. Seeing Ry Cooder last night at Great American Music Hall last night still hasn’t really sunk in. Cooder’s body of work is more than impressive. His contributions to music run deep through the veins of many musical genres. He can’t be pigeon holed. Let Wikipedia tell you where he’s been. This is what makes each new Ry Cooder offering – be it album or collaboration – so exciting to hear how it unfolds.

Last night’s performance was the second of a two-night stand in support of his new album, Up Some Dust And Sit Down, which was released last week on Nonesuch. The new material is politically charged and erupts to life behind the all-star collection of artists Cooder has assembled for his band. The tiny stage afforded little room for a horn section, who instead found their home in the balcony, brought the total number of musicians performing to a dozen. It was magic right from the first note.

The night began with a trio of favorites “Crazy Bout An Automobile,” “Boomer’s Story,” and “Why Don’t You Try Me” before giving way to new material like “El Corrido de Jesse James

A show of this caliber makes it’s impossible to pick the high points, but I’d be remiss to not mention mine, which were both covers: Ry Cooder’s take on “He’ll Have To Go” and Woody Guthrie’s “Do Re Mi” brought some of the loudest cheers from the crowd, myself included.

Old and new material flowed perfectly together and the crowd enthusiastically loved it all. The night proved, as I knew it would, that seeing Ry Cooder live is an experience that I couldn’t imagine missing. If you get the chance, don’t pass it up.