The Upshot: Live record is a perfect introduction to the uninitiated and a reminder to longtime fans of why you keep coming back.
BY JOHN B. MOORE
The Seattle alt weekly The Stranger, years ago referred to John Craigie as the “Lovechild of John Prine and Mitch Hedberg.” I’ve just spent 25 minutes in front of my keyboard trying to come up with a more apt – or clever – descriptor and realize I simply can’t. They’ve nailed it and that becomes even more apparent after listening to Craigie’s latest (and second, if you’re counting) live record, Opening for Steinbeck.
Recorded over two nights in Portland late last year, the album gives a perfect introduction to the uninitiated and a reminder to longtime fans of why you keep coming back. Much like fellow folk troubadour Todd Snider, whose stories and one-liners between songs are almost as crucial as the music itself, this live record is crammed with a slew of hilarious asides introing many of the songs. His monologue before “Presidential Lining” is sadly extremely relatable, and “Pants in England” is funny enough to steal as your own story. Meanwhile “Talkin’ Leviticus Blues,” one of his newest songs, is a fantastic fuck off to homophobia.
Constantly on the road, Craigie has toured and played with everyone from the aforementioned Snider to Jack Johnson, Trampled By Turtles and just about every festival with “folk” or “Americana” in the title. Until you get a chance to catch him live, Opening for Steinbeck will tide you over nicely.
DOWNLOAD: “Presidential Silver Lining,” “When We’re Sober” and “Talkin’ Leviticus Blues”