Townes Van Zandt - Reviews of some recent shows

The following setlists, reviews and comments about recent concerts were gleaned from the newsgroup, the Townes Van Zandt mail list, and personal email. I will try to add more as I run into old postings and new ones. - Len Coop

New 20/Feb/15: Club de Wash, Madison, WI 10/28/95 - Setlists and comments by Harvey: 10/28/95.

New 31/Dec/09: Setlists and comments by Nath, including: 3/11/77 Carrboro, NC, 5/2/85 Black Mountain NC, 6/1/87 Chapel Hill, and 7/12/96 Cheraw, SC. Nice!

7/Sept/97: Review of Townes and Guy in Ann Arbor 14/April/96 at No Depression Online, also have a local copy;
also a review from Germany around 1994 (Thanks to H. Wuest via about-townes);
Leichester 1994 and Cambridge 1995 (Thanks to Clive Fleckner via about-townes);
and LA around 1969 (posted by Glenn Christmas via about-townes).
New 16/Nov/97: Review of Townes in Dortmund 6/Nov/94;
New 5/Apr/07: Recollections of Townes in Eugene in 1995 and 77 or 78
New 9/Jul/09: Townes in Columbus OH in 1995 (musician Tim Easton)

From: (Kim Cooper)
Subject: Re: Townes in Portland
Date: 1 Jun 1994 15:26:21 -0700
Organization: University of California, Santa Barbara

Saw him in Ventura, CA a few weeks back and he made
an offhand comment about how he'd woken up that morning
with a bump on his head and a broken toe, and with no
idea where he got the clothes he was wearing. I don't
think he was being sardonic. It was an intense and
lovely evening of songs and jokes (he still tells the
one about the drunk who lost his car and his girl, as
heard on that 20 year old live album), and of special
note would be the new (to me, at least) song about a
homeless couple, where the woman just up and dies of
cold and hunger. It sounded like an ancient ballad, only
it was terrifyingly topical. Reminded me that folk music
can still grip the heart and mind. 

Long live Townes.


Article 36249 of
From: (J Paschel)
Subject: REVIEW: Townes Van Zandt in Seattle
Date: 23 May 94 15:27:28 GMT
Organization: University of Washington

The last time I saw Townes was in Feb 92 and he looked and sounded great
-- He was healthy, strong, coherent ...he was "on".  He had a new baby
girl that he was real proud of.  Things seemed right.  His show last night
was an eery contrast.  

This was a tough show for me because it became pretty clear that at this
stage in Townes' career, sobriety is a physical problem. One gets the
feeling that only when Townes is completely inebriated can he feel
"normal".  Sobriety for this man looks like sheer torture and anguish. 

In contrast to some other shows of the past two years (nights in which he
was too drunk to find the stage or hold his guitar) Townes was actually
fairly sober sunday night. In this sense, the evening wasn't bad.... he
played his songs, his between song banter made sense, he didn't wander off
the stage mumbling.  Yet he was so jittery and fragile (physically as well
as emotionally) that he could barely play eight notes without messing up. 
DT's to the nth degree... Choruses were misplaced, chords flubbed, and
songs sometimes ended abruptly.  The hardest thing to take, though, was
the cracking in his voice.  There were moments when it seemed like he was
really losing it. The energy required to "save face" in these situations
was really distracting -- to Townes as well as to the audience. At times 
I felt really uncomfortable -- like a voyeur with a ringside seat at 
someone's demise. 

On the up side, most folks seemed to enjoy themselves and Townes' still
has a way with people and all.  Nobody in the crowd heckled him or
anything like that and he did manage to get through the set....probably a
really difficult thing for Townes at this point in his career. 

It's likely that Townes will see better days.  Until then, be forwarned.

Article 36285 of
From: (rudi)
Subject: Re: REVIEW: Townes Van Zandt in Seattle
Date: 24 May 1994 07:53:29 GMT
Organization: University of California, Berkeley

With regard to J. Paschel's review of Townes Van Zandt in Seattle on 22 May.  
My wife and I saw TVZ the previous Friday (20 May) at the Freight & Salvage 
in Berkeley, CA.  We had never seen this Texas legend before and so don't 
have a point of reference.  TVZ gave a very good performance to an 
enthusiastic and full Berkeley crowd.  His performance and between song 
patter was coherent.  The patter seemed very measured but I thought this was 
just part of his Texan nature.  However, there were some of the problems 
mentioned in J. Paschel's review (abrupt song endings, tentative guitar 

On the other hand, TVZ did look very gaunt, almost frail.  He gave an encore 
of two songs.  The second encore song was about a person meeting some sort 
of demon in a pit, a very spooky song sung by this gaunt creature.  I hope 
the song was not autobiographical.  TVZ was borne in 1940, and to us middle 
aged persons in the audience, there was an alarming sense of mortality in 
this particular performance.

TVZ mentioned that he had just recorded a record in Ireland and that it 
would be out on Watermelon in September.  TVZ did not mention his baby 
daughter, but did mention his son Willie, for whom he had written a lullaby 
in just a few hours (to make some quick cash for a compilation).  TVZ also 
suggested that his wife sent him packing.

Steve Young opened.  His guitar work was very flashy (especially in 
comparison to TVZ's).  His lyricism and singing were pleasant, but to me not 
very distinctive.

--Rudi Schmid, Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley (

Article 36326 of
From: (Leonard Coop)
Subject: Townes in Portland
Date: 24 May 1994 23:15:29 GMT
Organization: Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon

It was a real crowd pleaser - his older fans showed up and showed
great respect.  He played a record time - 2 1/2 hours, and was mostly
right on top of his singing and playing guitar.  He is one of the
wryest, most deadpan humorists I know of.  The song about the Cave
mentioned by the Berkeley show reviewer for example is not a funny
song - but the crowd was laughing at almost every line, such as
"what about my girlfriend?" - "she'll find plenty of other men".

I thought townes was both celebrating the end of his mini-tour, and
pushing a little from being worn out by it.  The show dragged a 
little toward the end, but overall was the best I have seen him do -
he was drinking a few but was not drunk and the audience had a great 
time - he did all requests.  Steve Young was pretty good for his
45 minutes, but the PA system was not kind to his sound overall.

Townes still gets my recommendation as one of the best singer/song
writers around.

Article 36817 of
From: (Oslife)
Subject: tvz
Date: 4 Jun 1994 09:27:04 -0400
Organization: America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364)

for the fellow in oslo, a good bet for tvz music is the double live
album , the old quarter in houston. the cd is particularly good as u
can get all the talkn between cuts. 
the first and only time i saw him was in 72 in a campus coffee house at
north texas state in denton. he had on 2 different color socks. the
only song i recall was a fraternity talkn blues, which was

Article 40088 of
From: (Rudi Schmid)
Subject: Re: Townes Van Zandt
Date: 11 Aug 1994 07:55:06 GMT

TvZ gave an interesting and well-received performance in Berkeley on
May 20th.  His playing was rather erratic, as was his recall of lyrics
to some songs.  He also looked gaunt and rather frail.

--Rudi Schmid, Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley (

Article 40139 of
From: (JK13)
Subject: Re: Townes Van Zandt
Date: 11 Aug 1994 17:29:09 -0400

IMO, Townes is still one of the great songwriter/folksingers.
While he has not been a prolific songwriter, he has said "Others
write five, keep one.  I write one, keep one".

I have seen him on four occasions now (first was only in 
1990, he was opening for the Cowboy Junkies).  He played
about 2 hours this last May 23rd in Portland.  I thought
it was a great show.  He sings and plays with total 
dedication and has not been sloppy at all that I have
seen him.  He has certain emotions pegged better than any
songwriter I know of, in his singing and his songs.  These
emotions include dispair, loss, grief, freedom, solitude,
rejection, solace, melancholy, and sadness.  His music
reflects a philosophy of independence, compassion, non-
attachment, non-committment, and non-confinement.  His music
is not for everyone.  It can seem drole, tuneless, repetitive
at times, dry, not very pretty.  I especially enjoy his
delivery of cover songs, as on his recent CD 'Road Songs'


Thanks to Hermann for translating and posting this item.

Subject: Townes in Dortmund, Germany Nov 6, 1994
Date: 05-Oct-97
Time: 10:34 AM

Sorry, but I couldn't translate this article earlier. There are still
two or three more, which I want to translate in the following days. And
Excuse my mistakes and send any corrections you'd like to make to my
e-mail-address, which is Thanks a lot. 

This article was written by Wolfgang Thomas working for the
Westfaelische Rundschau, a local paper in Dortmund. It was published on
November 9th, 1994. Townes had played in Luedenscheid on Sunday th 6th.
It was a most enjoyable concert, which I was happy enough to
attend. The article captures the mood correctly. It is a pity that I
have not been able to track down a TV recording of the concert, which
exist, because a German TV station was filming. I think I'll have
another try soon. 

Townes Van Zandt: In His Baggage: The Misery of the World by Wolfgang

Luedenscheid: He just sits there and sings as if all the misery of the
world has been heaped upon him. After a few minutes there is not one
the crowd of about 120 people who is not feeling the same pain he's
feeling: Townes Van Zandt at the "Haus der Jugend" (i.e. Young People's
House) in Luedenscheid. He's one of the great singer/songwriters from
the USA who survived all that disco, punk and rap sounds of the last

If there was justice in the world he would play in big arenas in front
of thousands of people. Very often critics prophesied his breakthrough.
wrote songs for Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson, but in spite of this
he was always filed under "insider tip". Today he is sitting in the
"Haus der
Jugend" singing songs that go under your skin (Can you say that in
English?): Dollar Bill Blues and "A Song for You". With each line his
becomes more and more fragile, he dives deep down into his biography of
broken relationships, loneliness and desperation. The audience -
knowing what to is to be expected - dives down with this 50-year-old
singer and feels with the man on stage when he sings "Katie Belle" for
3-year-old daughter, a song from his new CD "No Deeper Blue". This -
many people think - will certainly his be his major breakthrough. From
beginning to end he goes through his gig eyes nearly closed and you
could hear a needle hit the ground if it wasn't for the coffee machine
in the
background. But Townes has experienced worse things: "Elsewhere beer
bottles were flying around and sometimes nearly missed my head." He
exhausts himself completely, takes out of his body what he can - and
that is still an incredibly great deal, even if in the past years he did
not only
sing against his "This-is-the-end-of-the-world feeling" , but also got
used to drinking "against" it. His legs sometimes are failing and he
himself for a short break. 20 minutes later, with the first chords on
his guitar - he again takes his listeners on a journey through misery.
When he
gets up and staggers out into the dressing-room the misery of the world
on his back, you'd wish all those techno freaks and hitparade singers
were sent where they belong: where the pepper is grown.

From Thu Mar  2 11:08:08 1995
Subject: Townes van Zandt newsletter

Well, as a first contribution of the newsletter, I have setlists and a
brief review of the Eugene OR 2/20/95 and Portland 2/23/95 shows (They
were great by the way).

Eugene OR 2/20/95 John Henrys:
Townes was only allowed one set of about 80 minutes or so.  He was in
very good shape and was very comfortable with the audience.  He is
touring via his Chevy Truck (the one Jeanine bought him when she 
kicked him out I believe) with his son J.T. (who looks like Townes) and
with his manager.  They are staying either in Motel 6's or in Townes'
Truck (according to his stage patter anyway).  A second whole show
(some rock band) was the reason it was a short show.  Debbie Driedrich
opened.  She was good, a local, and only played 3 or 4 songs herself.
Townes appeared on Mike Meyers' KVRM radio show that afternoon, and
Mickey Newberry called and invited Townes over the next day.  I am
working on getting a tape of the radio interview.  I heard he performed
2 songs including two girls.  Townes had not been to Eugene since 1978,
according to some members of the audience.  

The Setlist:
Katie Belle
Blazes Blues
Short Haired Woman Blues
The Hole
Pancho and Lefty
Talking Fraternity Blues
Dollar Bill Blues
To Live Is To Fly
A Song For
Ira Hayes 
Hey Willy Boy
Dont Take It Too Bad
Encore: Snowin on Raton

Portland 2/23/95 East Ave. Tavern
Not well advertised (not a word in the Portland Oregonian), Townes didnt 
even know where he would be playing when asked back in Eugene.  First of 2
shows was cancelled apparently for lack of publicity.  A great venue, an
Irish pub, very intimate and friendly (not unlike John Henrys actually).
A much smaller place than the Blue Heart Cafe where Townes played in May
of 94.  Once again Townes was great and appreciated by all.  It was one
long set (about 2 hrs 20 min).  A break would have been appreciated.  He
did well playing requests, and some were turned down because he doesnt know
them right now include The Tower Song and Quicksilver Daydreams of Maria.
He forgot a verse to Mr Mudd & Mr Gold and had said before he wasnt sure
he could do it.

The Setlist:
Two Girls
Dollar Bill Blues
Pancho & Lefty
Katie Belle
The Hole
Talkin Thunderbird
Buckskin Stallion
Short Haired Woman Blues
Ira Hayes
Snowin on Raton
To Live Is To Fly
Tecumseh Valley->
Dead Flowers
Blazes Blues
Talkin Fraternity
Rex's Blues (my own request)
Flyin Shoes
Hiway Kind
A Song For
No Deal
Waiten Around To Die->
Catfish Song
Dont Take It Too Bad
Mr Mudd & Mr Gold

Well, I have both shows on DAT made with Sonic Studios mics.  The two
shows nicely fit 2 100 min cassettes.  Email a list if you would like
to trade.

Len Coop

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 26 Feb 95 18:42:51 -0800
From: Carl T Bergstrom 
Subject: Re: First Townes van Zandt newsletter


Thanks for putting the list together. It is nice to finally
be in touch with a group of fellow TVZ devotees.

I thought you might want to post a set list for the 2/18/95
show at Live Soup, Santa Cruz, CA. Below is the list and
a few comments about the show.                 

My wife and I got see Townes in concert for the first time
last weekend at Live Soup in Santa Cruz, CA, a small
brewery/cafe.  I was actually a little
nervous about seeing him in concert because I didn't see how
it would be possible for him to live up to the picture I had
of him from all his albums on songs. I shouldn't have worried -
he more than exceeded any expectations that I had, in his
manner, his ease and rapport and openness, in the way he sang
every song...

Anyway, here is the set list from the 2/18/95 Live Soup show.
Townes played for nearly three hours, and you'll notice that
he played Pancho and Lefty twice - some people came in late and
he obliged their request by playing it a second time.   

Two girls
       No Deeper Blue
       Dollar Bill Blues
       Pancho and Lefty
       Snow on Raton
       The Hole
       Talking Thunderbird Blues
       To Live is to Fly
       The Ballad of Ira Hayes
       Blaze's Blues
       Short-Haired Woman Blues
       Talking Fraternity Blues
       Highway Kind
       A Song For
       Nowhere to Fall
       Tecumseh Valley
       Hey Willy Boy
       Buckskin Stallion Blues
       Catfish Song
       If I Needed You
       Colorado Girl
       Pancho and Lefty

Take care,
Carl Bergstrom

Carl Bergstrom			
Department of Biological Sciences
Stanford University

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 28 Feb 1995 13:03:06 -0600
From: John B. Harle 
Subject: Re: Townes van Zandt newsletter

On 2-26-95, Leonard Coop wrote:
>Eugene OR 2/20/95 John Henrys:
>Townes was only allowed one set of about 80 minutes or so.  
.>Portland 2/23/95 East Ave. Tavern
>It was one long set (about 2 hrs 20 min).

Well, I guess we got real lucky here in Houston.  When TVZ played here, we
ended up with around a 4 hour set with a few short intermissions.  He did
most of his songs, but also forgot the lyrics to Mr Mudd and Mr. Gold.  He
would't do Rex's Blues, because Rex was attending the show.  Our loss.
|John B. Harle                       |       South Texas College of Law  | 
|             |           JD May 1996             |

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 01 Mar 1995 21:19:40 -0800
Subject: 2-25-95 setlist, Northern Lights Church, Juneau, AK

Two Girls
Pancho & Lefty
Snowing On Ratone
Short Haired Woman Blues
Ballad of Ira Hayes
Thunderbird Talking Blues
To Live Is To Fly
If I Needed You
I'll Be Here In The Morning
Katie Belle
The Hole
Buckskin Stallion Blues
Catfish Song
White FreightlinerBlues

Caroline    (?Tecumseh Valley)
Flying Shoes

Date: Mon, 13 Mar 1995 17:22:59 -0500
From: John Kearney 

Greetings, group! Marji and I spent a pleasant weekend in the historic
section of South Philly, highlighted by seeing Townes Van Zandt at The Tin
Angel. As we stood in line for the 2nd show I found the comments of the
departing 1st show patrons very interesting. They ranged from "great show!"
to "boring and talkative".

Townes was preceeded by Patsy Foster (accompanied by guitarist Tim
Fogerty). Her set was strongly country/folk-ish. Her energy and excellent
voice were a perfect complement to her original material and she quickly
won over the crowd. I would have enjoyed more songs from her had I not been
so anxious to see our man Townes.

Townes was introduced and climbed slowly up on the stage. It's been
reported elsewhere that he looked shaky, but I disagree. I think he was
just moving cautiously in the tight confines of Tin Angel because he was
wearing a beautiful Gibson J-200 guitar. If I was wearing one of those
expensive beauties, I'd be VERY careful with it too. He played
unaccompanied and started with Loretta, followed by Pancho & Lefty, Marie,
and The Hole. Those last two songs cast a spell of hopelessness and gloom
that had the crowd visible upset by the aura of despair that Townes was
casting. After the applause for The Hole had died down there was a pregnant
moment of silence after which Townes said "The best thing about that song
is it's OVER!"  Much laughter and the gloom was dispelled.

Townes followed up with Katie Belle Blues. While recording it in Ireland,
one of the musicians told him it was a minuet. Townes says "It's the only
minuet I've ever written, for sure the only one I've heard."

Hey Willy Boy was next. Townes wrote it for his son, who he describes as a
typical twelve year old boy. Willy ain't too fond of the song tho, "He
thinks it's the stupidest thing he ever heard."

Next up were Lovers Lullaby and The Ballad Of Ira Hayes, of which Townes
said "I wish I'd a-written this song, but all I can do is play it." He
followed that with Dollar Bill Blues and Talkin' Thunderbird Blues, which
really amused the crowd. Townes had us laughing at every verse.

He then launched into a long tall tale involving Guy Clark and his VW van
and a trip to LA interrupted by car troubles and saved by a clumsy hawk and
a just-the-right-size snake, by way of introducing No Deal. I think Steven
Wright owes a debt to Townes.

If I Needed You was the last song of the set. It was followed by long
sustained cheering and applause and was sufficiently enthusiastic to bring
him back for an encore. We were treated to To Live Is To Fly and The
Catfish Song and then it was over, all too soon.

Townes seemed in good voice, good health, and good humor. There was some
slight hesitation early on where he seemed to be searching for a lyric, but
he overcame quickly and became more sure of himself and more spontaneous as
the crowd warmed to him and vice-versa.

I hope to see him again soon. Thanks Townes, I really enjoyed it.

----------------------------------------------------------------------- |
John Kearney                 |          Sig contest
Microwave Signal             |          still open !
301-428-4607                 |

Comments:  My wife and I saw both sets that night.  The Tin Angel sold 
out all 112 seats for both shows.  Unfortunately they charged a separate 
$12 cover for each set (the first time I've run into that in 18 years of 
TvZ shows), and the only way to get a seat at a table was to buy dinner 
at the restaurant downstairs.  Despite spending $56 on tickets and 
service charges, we ended up sitting on bar stools in a VERY smoky, 
poorly ventilated room.  But enough editorializing.

	The first set was among the worst I've seen him do.  People 
complained to the manager afterwards.  Rumor has it they weren't even 
sure he would make it from New York that night, and several people stated 
they thought he was very stoned.  I watched him for an hour during the 
opening act, and he didn't have a drink then.  Nevertheless, his sense of 
rhythm was completely gone, he forgot lyrics, he hammered at his guitar 
(his finger-picking attempts were dreadful), and he rambled into several 
loooooooong, meandering stories. The tape of this set didn't turn out, but 
the set lasted 50 minutes, and I think it went as follows:

Two Girls
Pancho & Lefty --> Marie
Talking Thunderbird Blues (no laughs from the first show audience)
Blaze's Blues
Short Haired Woman Blues (with some new lyrics, when he forgot the real ones)
Katie Belle (I think he did this both sets)
To Live Is To Fly
Buckskin Stallion Blues

	The second set was tighter, although he still messed up the 
picking on Pancho & Lefty, Talking Thunderbird Blues, Dollar Bill Blues, 
If I Needed You, and To Live Is To Fly.  The second set lasted 85 
minutes, and the tape did turn out:

Pancho & Lefty
The Hole
Katie Belle
Hey Willie Boy
Lover's Lullabye
Ballad Of Ira Hayes
Dollar Bill Blues
Talking Thunderbird Blues
No Deal
If I Needed You
To Live Is To Fly
Catfish Song

	I had a chance to talk with Townes for about ten minutes after the
show.  In a very roundabout way, he told stories of how he came to record
with Philip Donnelly in Ireland; a buck-toothed Irish dwarf in a pub in
Limerick last year who thought Townes was Elvis Presley; how he never
answers the phone, let alone reads his mail; how he has several new songs
ready to record on what he plans to be a "more sparse" next album; and
despite their separation his ex-wife is still managing his affairs.  I
told him about this list, and asked if he would entertain questions if I
could assemble them and pass them on in a group, to his wife.

Chris Friedrich


        Townes Van Zandt
        Tue, 4 Feb 1997 23:50:38 -0700
        "Gynivell A. Gilliam" 

Dear Len,
  I was given  the address of your web site last fall by Andrea Compton @ Keith Case
but we just last week got hooked up to the net.  We live in a very rural part of Idaho.  My
wife,Gynii (the e-mail address is hers), was laughing at me because I spent five hours the 
other night reading every thing there was to read about Townes and it was a journey as I'm 
not real computer literate.  I'm getting better at this and plan to stay current.  The 
following is a review of Townes' show here with a set list.  Following that is a description
of his visit with us.  
This show took place October 13, 1995, in Challis, Id., at the Challis Jr. High Auditorium. 
Townes remarked that it was odd to be back in a school when he'd spent so much time trying to
get out of them.  I also saw the show he played the night before in Boise at the Old Boise 
Guitar Company.  Townes was good in Boise but was in much better shape the following night 
in Challis.  I didn't write down the set list in Boise but it was similar to the one in Challis.
  He was very gracious and humorous.  This was one of those nights when Townes was "on". 
His stories and jokes were good, he played very well and the audience seemed to really enjoy 
him.  Since Challis is small and remote, many of the 200+ folks attending the show were locals
with no familiarity with Townes or his work.  There were also a fair number of people who drove
150-200 miles to see him.  There were only a few people who later told me they hadn't cared for
the show.  Everyone else I talked to had something complimentary to say.
  Townes played for about an hour the first set after which we took him to the firehall where
he could smoke and have a drink during the break.  Returning to the stage he played for another
hour and a half.  I know from having seen him in Portland in '94 and from reviews I've read
that he sometimes simply strummed his guitar.  This was not the case in Challis.  He played
a fair amount of fingerstyle and it was very clean.  It was a pleasure to see and hear.   
He was very good.
  He was the same friendly, approachable person I had met in Eugene,  in 1977.  He did appear 
frail.  The intervening years had taken their toll.  Before the show he pulled from his guitar
case, a small medicine bag two Indian boys had given him years before.  He held this to each eye
for a few moments and after returning it to the case, offered to trade shirts with me.  When I 
told him the fit was wrong he said, " I'll gamble you for it".  I think he was serious.  Smiling,
he said he was ready to go on.  I think Harold would agree that it's a shame we don't have a tape
of that night.  He played the following set list.                     
        -A Song For
        -Dollar Bill Blues
        -Talkin' Thunderbird Blues
        -Rex's Blues
        -Tecumseh Valley--Dead Flowers
        -Pancho and Lefty
        -You Are Not Needed Now
        -Buckskin Stallion
        -Two Girls
        -Blaze's Blue
        -The Hole
        -Goin' Down To Memphis
        -Hey Willy Boy
        -Katie Belle Blue
        -If I Needed You
        -To Live Is To Fly
        -Flyin' Shoes ( a request)
        -My Starter Won't Start
        -Snowin' On Raton
        -Still Lookin" For You
        -Catfish Song
        -Ain't Leavin Your Love
        -Shrimp Song
        -Ballad Of Old Shep
        -Fraternity Blues
After playing this long no one expected an encore and Townes didn't play one.  He 
looked very tired.  He forgot his lyrics once or twice but just played along and 
they came to him.  Damn I wish we'd had a tape in the sound man's deck.  Townes 
and his manager Harold Eggers were a pleasure to have with us in Challis. 

I first heard Townes on KINK radio in Portland, Oregon in 1969.  The song was "Second 
Lovers Song", and Townes' work has held my attention ever since.  After listening 
to his work for the next eight years, when I finally met him in Eugene in 1977, he 
was the person I thought he'd be, like I had known him all along.
Moving to central Idaho shortly thereafter I kind of lost track of him, but on visits 
to the city, I always checked the record stores for new recordings.  Sometime in early 
1994 I came across the FLY-BLUE # that listed Townes' upcoming bookings, which led me 
to fly over to Portland for the Blue Heart Cafe show that May.  It was a good show.
Mid summer of '94 my wife and I were talking and I said I ought to approach the local 
arts council about booking Townes.  I called Keith Case and Andrea Compton gave me 
all the info I needed.  After several meetings the arts council gave the go ahead and 
the rest just fell together.  A friend with a music store in Boise wanted to book Townes 
there also.  It took about a year for us to get it done and we had Townes booked for Oct 
of '95.
Townes and Harold were very nice to work with, very approachable and agreeable.  We had 
a nice floral arrangement on the table next to Townes' stool on stage.  He was very 
pleased with it and commented on the flowers throughout the show.  He was so personal 
on stage our arts council director said it " was like watching an exposed nerve".
I had the opportunity in Boise and in Challis to spend some time listening to more 
of his stories and talking with him.  We laughed at the firehall during the break 
about the "German Mustard Song" and "fireman don't carry no guns".  He was one of 
the nicest people I've ever met.  He told me about his father, about living in Billings,
Mt., while growing up.  I told him our oldest son is named Jonathan Townes.  When 
we got back to the school/auditorium Jon was waiting for us.  Townes walked to him, 
introduced himself, and told him about his children, saying he had a son named John 
Townes, and that his own first name was John.
His humor on stage was topical, as when he teased about the stage frightened mc (me)
and when he joked about smoking in the firehall where he "smelled something suspiciously 
like gasoline".  Townes had his faults but he was never anything but charming and humble
with all of us here.  I had that old poster from Tomato records " Become Involved With A
Legend", along with his records in the display case at the school.  Harold wanted Townes
to stand in front of the case for a picture.  Townes was uncomfortable about it, saying 
to no one in particular, " Man, I ain't a legend.  I'm just a folk singer".
He came down to our house for a bite to eat after the show.  I've got a couple of Martin's 
and I saw Townes sign some guitars in Boise for some guys.  I asked him if he'd sign one of
mine.  He didn't want to sign either one of them.  He said, " There's nothing my signature 
will do for your guitars.  They're beautiful instruments just the way they are.  I signed 
those other guitars cause someone had already scratched em all up with a ball point pen.  
My signature won't add anything to your guitars".
He and Harold chatted and took pictures.  My wife packed up some food for them and I showed 
them back to the highway.  It was dark and easy to lose your way on the dirt roads here.  I 
told them they were always welcome if they came back through these parts.  Townes laughed and 
said, " You mean like if I'm on my way from a gig in Amarillo to one in Juneau".  Like everyone
else, I miss knowing he is somewhere writing and playing his songs.  My family and I will always
remember them fondly.  
Tony Gilliam   

Hi everyone- here's the first review I've gotten in awhile.  Does anyone 
recognize "Early In The Morning"? Is it the Buddy Holly song, or a new 
TvZ original?  Townes is also playing in Philadelphia with Guy Clark this 

Chris Friedrich

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 08:52:08 -0600
From: Harvey A. Taylor 

Townes played the Club De Wash 10/28/95 in Madison WI, following a great 
opening set by Chris Plata's
trio; I'll give the set list, & a few incidental comments. When T got on
stage, & saw the bottle of Evian water (probably his manager's idea) he said
'that's more water than I've drank in my whole life!' He looked healthier 
than when I saw him last Dec. in Milwaukee. 

Early In The Morning
Katie Belle (saying, as part of a long rambling intro, that lullabys worked
better than saying GO TO SLEEP!)
Automobile Blues (introduced by saying Lightnin' Hopkins told him the blues is a cross 
between the greens & the yellows)--
Townes is a fish in water when he's playing the blues; his dues are paid up, & then some--

Pancho & Lefty, slow & bluesy: 'the dust that Pancho bit down south ended up
in Lefty's mouth'--segue into Marie---
starts The Hole---stops after a few words, begins laughing---tells the story
of a nurse telling a doctor, 'Doctor, there's a man out here who says he's
invisible!' Doc replies, 'Tell him I can't see him.'--yeah, Townes told
several groaners, but the good news is that he only told 'em once; the last
gig I caught, he was telling 'em twice, without realizing it.

Fraternity Song--'that Fraternity stuff is too much for me; next time I'll
join a sorority'
passing comment: 'if Woody Guthrie was alive today, he'd be rolling over in
his grave'

To Live Is To Fly
Snow In Raton--ballads are as uptempo as TVZ got tonight; when he wants to
slow down, there's always the blues
Tecumseh Valley, seguing to Dead Flowers ('send dead flowers to my wedding, & 
I won't forget to put roses on your grave)--then back to Tecumseh V
'Here's one I wrote on purpose': The Hole, this time without the laughter
Encore ('written in my sleep'): If I Needed You
Townes played a Gibson Hummingbird (Bluebird?), & sang with his eyes closed; 
I hope he's around for a long time


(Whelan's, Dublin, Friday December 8th, 1995)
By Nick Kelly

A lot of people reach for their Swiss Army knives the instant they hear the
words 'folk singer' bandied about, with mightmarish images of long-haired
codgers drunkenly barking out the lyrics to 'Old Shep' on a battered
acoustic guitar marauding unchallenged through their minds.
But Townes Van Zandt is different; his acoustic guitar looked in pretty
good shape.
I jest. True, it's been a while since he darkened the door of his local
Peter Mark, and I certainly wouldn't trust him to mind my pint when I have
to go and see a toilet cubicle about a piss, but, then again, the Lone Star
State's lonest star is well aware of the standard stereotypes that dog the
genre, and so it was with his tongue surgically implanted inside his cheek
that he treated us to his take on the aforementioned weepy canine epic,
trying bravely but unsuccessfully to make it through two lines at any one
time without doubling up with laughter.
That's one of the things I like about the man. Unlike some of his
contemporaries, Van Zandt doesn't take either himself or his job too
seriously. His peerless songbook may contain some of the most gut-wrenching,
heart-hitting songs ever written, such as 'Marie', a chilling vivid first
person account of homelessness and unemployment, and the equally grim
'Tecumseh Valley', his tragic tale of prostitution and suicide, ho hum, but
his talent for depicting the bleakness of life and death among the American
underclass doesn't disqualify him from lightening up between songs and
telling corny jokes about penguins!
With a voice that's craggier than the craggiest rock on Craggy Island and a
sense of humour that's as black and as self-depreciating as any of it's
inhabitants, Van Zandt is one of the best live performers you could ever
hope to see. And never mind that Nanci Griffith covers his songs, he has a
lot more in common with Lou Reed than he does with his fellow Texan.
His songs bite and bleed and yet, strangely, heal.And when the final strum
of "To Live Is To Fly' rings through Whelan's, you can almost hear a
collective gasp of 'genius'.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 7 Feb 1996 16:13:00 -0500
From: Mike Smeets 

Townes In Toronto, Feb. 3, 1996    9:50 - 11:20 PM  90 min

On any given night, in any given concert hall, a rare and special moment is
likely to occur.  Last Saturday night, at The Bathurst Street Theatre it was
Toronto's turn.  Townes Van Zandt ducked onto the blackened stage before a
small appreciative audience of some 800 and did what he does best. What was
rare was that he was there at all.

This Texas singer songwriter, though legendary in the music community, has a
small but loyal following.  Emmy Lou Harris, Cowboy Junkies and Guy Clark
have recorded his songs and call him friend.  Steve Earle claims that Townes
"is the best songwriter in the world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee
table in my cowboy boots and say that."  Credit goes to CIUT and Beyond The
Fringe for bringing him to town.  

Townes weaves depressing tales of the homeless, of whores and drugs and pain
and death.  Hardly cheery and uplifting.  And yet, we laughed.  We laughed
at songs so sad, they were funny.  We laughed at his corny jokes.  ("I'm
just a lonely schizophrenic but at least I have each other.")  We had to
laugh.  His songs hit hard and something has to buffer us from reality.  

Though lost in the Toronto hustle and bustle of a cold February night, there
was an enigmatic magic in the air. We knew it - we few who came to see the
traveling Texas minstrel and his tails of woe.  We knew what we came for and
Townes did not disappoint.  It was a genuine pleasure to be sung lullabies
mixed with barbiturates and to be reminded that "anything mixed with
barbiturates can kill." 

KATIE BELLE BLUE - "a genuine lullaby"
After telling us that he has a daughter 4, and two sons, 13 and 27 Townes
quipped "I don't get laid often but when I do it really works."
BRAND NEW COMPANION Townes claimed to like playing dead blues singer's tunes
so he can take credit for them
BUCKSKIN STALLION - about a girl and a horse - "I still miss the horse"
OLD SHEP a song so sad, it's funny
A fan shouted out "how about telling us one of your corny jokes."
"I can't believe I got a request for a joke."
GOODNIGHT IRENE - Townes suggested to the back up acts who accompanied him
on the stage ..."let's play the lullaby version"  After strumming a few soft
bars he quipped "Let's rock this joint" and began an unforgettable version
of the classic song complete with lyrics about wart hogs and pulling teeth
with needle nose pliers.
SNOWIN' ON RATON - requested


From finnp@sn.noFri Nov  1 17:53:45 1996
Date: Fri, 01 Nov 1996 21:37:19 +0100
From: Finn Pedersen 
To: Len Coop 
Subject: Townes Van Zandt in Oslo, Norway

Hi Len,

Good job with the TVZ page, keep it up.

If not for your tour schedule, I'd never have known Townes was coming to 
Norway. Sources over here hardly mention him at all, so thank you.

Anyway, I went to the concert yesterday, and it was great, so as a small 
token of my appreciation I wrote this review. Thought maybe you'd be 
interested. Please feel free to do with it as you like, include it with 
the others on your page, or pass it on to the mail-list, or whatever.

Thanks again. Here's the review- (I might have left out one or two 
songs, but this was roughly it as far as I remember.)

Townes Van Zandt at Cruise Cafe (Oslo, Norway)          October 31, 1996

It was a rainy night in Oslo. At five to ten I stepped in from the 
drizzling cold, looking forward to my long-awaited first encounter with 
the great Texan poet. Not a minute too soon. Cruise Cafe (smoke, beer, 
200-something capacity, kept in a movie kind of style with a Garbo 
portrait behind the small stage, a life-size John Wayne cutout behind 
the bar... -you can picture the place) was starting to fill up, and I 
was lucky to grab the last seat at a table. As Townes entered the stage 
forty minutes later, the place was pretty much crammed.

Given his weathered, somewhat shy appearance, and his opening words 
"It's nice to be here. But then again, if you've been where I've been, 
it's nice to be anywhere." things might have turned out for better of 
for worse. However, as soon as he struck the first few cords of 
"Loretta", my mind was put to ease. This was good. This was Townes Van 
Zandt the way I'd been wishing for to see him.

After the first song Townes, true to tradition, told a joke, said he 
felt kinda stupid 'cause he wasn't much of a speaker and when it came 
down to Norwegian he didn't know a single word. The audience laughed, 
and quickly warmed to him. He most definitely has a way with people. 
Then came Dollar Bill Blues, which was the very first of his songs I 
recall ever hearing. It still holds a special place in my heart. This 
was a more downbeat version than on "Live and Obscure" and "Flyin' 
Shoes", making it even better.

"My Starter Won't Start" was next, and Townes was in a laughing mood 
throughout, making it very clear what the song was *really* about. It 
was a real crowd-pleaser. The late Lightnin' Hopkins would have been 
happy to see his old tune so well received.

Townes has the most terrific sense of humour. As the laughter faded out 
he started singing "Two Girls", but only got so far as to "...they 
didn't even look like clouds.", before letting out another chuckle, 
saying "I always loved that line". "By the way," he went on "this one's 
quite funny too," whereupon he did a hilarious, laid-back recitation of 
"Sanatorium Blues" which really had the crowd roaring. Having let us all 
calm down, he finished "Two Girls".

"Pancho & Lefty" followed, as always a favourite among the audience. 
Then in quick succession "A Song For", "Goin' Down to Memphis", and "If 
I Needed You", the latter bringing perhaps the biggest round of applause 
of the evening. Some guy at the neighbouring table had had a bit too 
much to drink, and I started thinking about Townes well-known problem, 
sure, he did look a bit weary, but his playing and singing was so good, 
and he was in such a jovial mood, I'll take the poet's own word for it 
and blame the jet lag.

Next was a beautiful rendition of "Buckskin Stallion". In connection 
with the upcoming US presidential election, Townes decided to share his 
view on politics: "On one side we have mr. Clinton, the president. On 
the other we have Robert Dole. -Now the way I see it,- ...well they're 
both politicians." Townes sighed and shook his head, and the crowd burst 
out laughing. -"My choice for president would have to be Jerry Lee 

Townes' versatility was proven by the next couple of songs. First, 
"Blaze's Blues", with a rugged, much more gravelly vocal than on the 
album, and a raw, driving guitar. Next, my personal high point of the 
show. -"Katie Belle Blue isn't my only lullaby" he said. "I wrote one 
for Willie for money, and I wrote one for my ex-wife, so as to get her 
off my back, but this one I made just to help my little daughter go to 
sleep". Townes really got his act together for this one. I never heard 
him so good before. His voice was smooth as velvet, his playing was 
flawless. It was like, you know,!

He proceeded to tell us about the last time he'd been here, and how he'd 
actually considered moving to Norway. "The tax system would be a bitch, 
and the twelve feet of snow, well... I could've been able to live with 
that. -But I'd have to sign lots of papers for the government," a sly 
smile,  "-and you know how I feel about governments." Then he went on to 
play "Aint' Leavin' Your Love" and "Waiting 'Round to Die".

Before the last two songs, Townes talked a bit about a new studio album 
he would do right after the tour. Maybe it was just wishful thinking 
when I heard him mentioning two albums, or maybe he was refering to the 
ever-in-the-up-and-coming box set, I'm not quite sure. Anyway, to round 
off an unforgettable evening, he did "The Catfish Song" and "Marie".

At a quarter past midnight, the show was over. On my way out, I noticed 
Townes crouched by the entrance, giving autographs. I cursed myself for 
not bringing a CD booklet or something for him to sign, but thought "Ah, 
well,  he gave me something else. The memory." -Thanks Townes. 'Till 
next time.
 Finn Pedersen              XX                        
     a.k.a.            O§§§§||_________________________XX>
Oliphant  Dragon            ||     
   -==UDIC==-               XX   


Subject: TVZ Berlin 11/8/96
        Wed, 13 Nov 96 11:38:54 +0100
        Alexander Kadner 
    To:, Frank.Ohl@IfN-Magdeburg.DE


Thanks a lot for Your help - I’d have missed the Concert otherwise. As for a
review and songlist, I’ll do my best.
Over the years you get to read quite a few things about Townes, most of them
album notes and such, but somehow they miss the point. The concert in Berlin
showed the ‘darker’ side of Townes, that album covers just politely allude to.
The concert was poorly advertised and the place was really nothing special.
The audience was the mix I remember from the first time I saw Townes play in
Frankfurt two years ago: People from different backgrounds, different ages,
actually as diferent as they come, except that there were no yuppies present
(would You have expected any?). The place was depressing and the general
mood seemed to be depressed as well. Let’ s just forget about the guy who
played before Townes: He was neither very good nor really bad, he was just
not what everyone had come for. Some in the audience left little doubt about
Townes really didn’t change anybody’s mood, he just took it to a different
level. I started suspecting something when someone exchanged the barstool
that was already on the stage for a chair. When Townes came in he started
the his performance saying  ‘So I’m in Berlin. If you’d been where I have
been, you’d be glad to be anywhere....’ Then he played a strange version of
‘Loretta’ about half tempo, voice shaky a guitar chord every once in a
while. The way he did it was like reading poetry rather than singing. The
man was blind drunk.
Before playing ‘Blaze’s Blues’ he told a story about how they buried Blaze
and then dug him up again because he still had the pawn ticket for his
guitar in his suit. I’m not sure I believe this, but it’s a good story
anyway. The way he told it was ... impressive (or very weird depending how
you look at it): He was struggling for words, frequently stopping and you
could never be sure that this story would actually go anywehere. The real
message, supposing  there was one, was not in the words. It’s  sad to say
that Townes failed to really capture the audience. Rather, he appeared to go
through the motions doing more or less what he’d done the othe time I’ve
seen him, which was an outstanding concert. This time I was torn between
disappointment, compassion and amazement. I also admired the courage it must
have taken to face a crowd when in such a sorry condition. Townes did his
best, but that didn’t make it a good concert. It was something completely
different, and I’m glad I’ve seen it.
I guess, if one wanted to find out where all these sad and beautiful songs
come from, it was there to be felt. I won’t  put into words, Townes does it

You asked for a songlist. Sorry to say, but my memory is not what it should
be. The songs I remember include:
Loretta, Blaze’s Blues, Two Girls, Pancho and Lefty, Katie Belle and
Tecumseh Valley

        (0 0)

Alexander Kadner                Institut für Neurobiologie
                                Brenneckestr 6
                                39118 Magdeburg


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Townes schedule
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2007 13:10:41 -0700 (PDT)
From: Tony Gilliam 

Hi Len,
     I was just poking around the internet trying to
find something my 55 yr old mind had forgotten when I
stumbled across your Townes schedule.  He left Challis
after his 10-13-95 show for a 10-14-95 show @
University of Montana in Missoula, MT and 10-15-95 
show in Bozeman, MT for Vootie Productions I think it
was.  I believe that was the last show of that tour. 
You could check with Vootie and I'll bet they'd
remember as I talked to the guy who booked Townes up
there when I was in Bozeman seeing Greg Brown a few
years ago.  
     There were other shows in Oregon, two of which I
attended in Eugene after missing the one in Portland
at the Euphoria Tavern.  I didn't know he was in town
till the next day when one of my emplyee's sister told
me he'd played the night before, but was going to play
in Eugene that night and the next.  I left for Eugene
immediately.  This all took place either late
summer/early fall of '77, or spring of '78, and all I
can recall is that it was warm, pleasant weather.
     He played in Eugene at a place called The Place. 
   When I last saw Townes he told me all he remembered
of the show was threatening(while on stage)to go home
and blow his cheating (Cindy) wife up.  We had a real
good time hanging out for two nights.  He was
traveling with Ruester Rowland and Owen Cody.  
     I didn't meet Harold till '95 when he and Townes
came to Challis, as the Portland/Eugene deal was when
Harold's knee swelled up and and they left him in the
VA hospital in Portland while they finished the tour
in Eugene.  When they came back to Portland to
retrieve Harold is when Townes went into Harold's
hospital room and told him his problem was stress,
worrying about the bills and such on the tour,  and
then Townes took all the receipts and such from the
tour and opened the window and threw them out.  Harold
told me when I met him that this is a true story, that
the swelling in his knee went down and they released
him from the hospital.

Hope you are well,
Tony Gilliam
Challis, Idaho

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: from Tim Easton
Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2009
From: Tim Easton

I was trying to research the Townes life tour page to see what 
the date was that I played with him in Columbus, Ohio...

you didn't have it so I called the promoter.   He had it, 
along with a bunch of stories!

It was August 21st, 1995   Columbus, Ohio   Barley's         with Tim Easton

A total train wreck of a gig.   Townes had just come back from Europe.  
Played terribly.   16 people asked for their money back.
He sat in the front row for my set but I didn't recognize him. 
Thought he was a homeless guy.

I knew a bit about Travis style and Lightnin Hopkins style picking 
so he took to me just fine.  I had one of those For The Sake Of 
The Song books I had purchased from Butch Hancock at Lubbock Or Leave It 
and Townes signed it  "Tim, take the money and run."


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