Five Good Reason’s to Catch The Coal Men’s current tour
A trio out of Nashville, the Coal Men have been around for about a decade, though they’ve only ventured outside of the Music City in the last couple of years. Out on tour in support of their new album, Kids with Songs, the guys recently came through Cleveland, Ohio to play Wilbert’s, a blues bar located in the heart of downtown. Despite dealing with a mediocre sound system and an empty room, they put on a terrific 90-minute show. Here are five good reasons to catch them when they come to your town (check thecoalmen.com for tour dates).
1. At one point I counted a total of 11 people in the audience (and that included the head of Funzalo, the band’s record label, and a rep from the company that distributes the band’s CDs), but these guys played a good 18 songs and gave it their all. “We’re all gonna know each other’s names tonight, but that’s how it goes sometimes,” singer-guitarist Dave Coleman said matter-of-factly at one point during the set. In fact, it even seemed like the group relished the intimate setting, joking with one patron when he suggested they were playing for nothing more than “gas money.” “It’s all just gas money,” said drummer Dave Ray in response.
2. The band’s new album, Kids with Songs, kicks ass. The guys have put a good number of songs from Kids into their set and tunes such as the rootsy title track and the snappy, Jayhawks-like “Nightingale” feature sing-a-long choruses and terrific vocal harmonies. A good mix of moody ballads and bar band rockers, the album mixes solid vocal harmonies with Southern rock guitar work, at times venturing into Drive-by Truckers territory.
3. The band’s moody ballad “Farther Found Me Now” has taken on a second life after it was used on an episode of Deadliest Catch. The track was the centerpiece of the live show and is so haunted, it sounds like it could be a traditional, 100-year-old ballad. Coleman’s vocals have a raspy, Springsteen quality as he sings, “Where we going? Please tell me.” The song resonated even more in the live setting.
4. Coleman can play the hell out of his Gretsch guitar. Throughout the course of the concert, he offered up intricate, mid-song solos and often stood on the top of the monitors as he let them rip. His playing is rather understated on Kids with Songs but much more vibrant live.
5. The band plays a cover of the defiant “I Fought the Law” that’s every bit as rambunctious as the Clash’s version. You’ll have to wait for it since when we saw the band play, it was the night’s penultimate number. But stick around to hear them kick it out. It’s a fitting homage to the late, great Joe Strummer, and radical rock icons everywhere.