There are dive bars, cafes, clubs, and street corners in countless towns that give road-weary musicians an opportunity to play yet again for anyone that will listen. Places that realize a musician too, can be a working stiff. Endless tours and revisited stretches of highway start to give way to a constant state of déjà vu–and all that matters is the next show, however far and wherever it may be.
David Dondero has called places home and played corners of this world that would make average guitar-slingers crawl back to the college town from whence they came. It is his unwavering commitment to the life of a music maker that makes his new CD, Live at the Hemlock, both a joyous homecoming and simply another pit stop. Whether playing to the sound-guy or in this case, a packed, attentive room, Dondero is completely possessed by his songs and the characters within them. So, no matter where he is the songs will come alive, but there is an energy captured on this CD that shows Dondero at his most animated.
With Craig D on the trap kit, Dondero barrels through a number of tunes from his last four records including “The Real Tina Turner” off of “Shooting at the Sun With a Water Gun” and the raucous opener, “Living and the Dead” from last years, “The Transient”. If there has to be a standout track, however, it would be the previously unreleased protest song, “Pre-invasion Jitters” which is a daring, vitriolic and impassioned stance against U.S. foreign policy.
When David Dondero is in San Francisco he calls the Hemlock home. It’s a place that has established itself as a sanctuary for both local artists and road-worn, world traveling ones. A great sound-system, an intimate room, and a non-jaded staff might not mean much to many people, but to the those who just drove 14 hours to play there, it means everything in the world.
Ashes on the Highway