Dirk Hamilton Band – Live At The Palms
Album Review / Article by Joseph Timmons: IndiePulse Music Magazine
Live At The Palms, the latest offering from Dirk Hamilton Band was a very difficult album to review, in fact, I have rewritten this review 9 separate times, and still wonder if I did the artist and his band a justice…..
Fact is, how can you put into words every emotion, every memory, every dream and feeling the music by this masterful artist and his companions have created, and performed live in front of people that are, by far, some of the luckiest persons in the world for being part of an event that was a once in a lifetime performance.
The Dirk Hamilton Band is Dirk Hamilton on Harmonica, Acoustic Guitar and Vocals, which are shared by Don Evans, whom plays Electric Guitar and Eric Westphal on Bas, an Tim Seifert on Drums. The group, performing songs dating back to 1977 through to more recently 2009, have a serene and touching softness, and yet, a mirth and merriment to them as well. All the songs performed have the feeling that they are more like lessons, parables, stories of life’s real meaning. With a sound reminiscent of artists like Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, Harry Chapin and Jim Croce, the Dirk Hamilton Band is more like a modern “Folk Music Jukebox”, playing the hits of a lifetime.
Recorded live at The Palms Playhouse, the recording has a “being there” feel, close your eyes and you can see the stage, the minstrels playing their lives and stories out for the audience and griping you tight to your spot, you are there, and nowhere else. Maybe I am waxing poetic, showing my age and feeling connections to a time passed by, by the music speaks to me in a way that the voice of an old an trusted friend would, a fathers voice, guiding you home safely, with both the wisdom o maturity and a spark of childish glamor, Live At The Palms is amazing.
My Favorite Tracks on Live At The Palms re vast, actually, every track is wonderful, but I am truly fond of Hardball In The Holy Land, Feather, All The People In This World, Windmill Hills, Coming To Light, and Lonely Videos,. I would say that this is an album, within an album, each track winding into another and each other, almost like walking though a maze of mirrors, each reflection showing another side, another truth.
Originally recorded in 2009, recently released and remastered, this is a chance to hear some great music by artists that have given everything to be, in that moment, immortal I an historical live performance from the 2009 “More Songs From My Cool Life” tour. With over 12 albums to his catalog, Dirk Hamilton has still some very poignant things to say.
About Dirk Hamilton:
Dirk Hamilton was born in Hobart, Indiana and raised in California, at 14 he played in a Chuck Berry/surf music band called The Regents. For a 45-rpm record they were about to make, bandleader Houston Box had written an instrumental called ‘Orangutan’ but needed a B-side so Dirk whipped out ‘Truck’ the night before the session. He says it was the first song he ever wrote and, in his own comments “‘it stunk”.
Dirk continued to comment in his biography, “I began playing guitar and singing songs when I was 8 years old. I was writing stories and poems before that. I always thought of the two activities as completely different and separate — writing was ‘serious’, playing and singing was ‘fun’. Then I discovered Dylan and learned that songs could be just as deep as the best poetry. It was an epiphany! At that moment I knew what I wanted to do with my life.”
By the early 70’s, he was playing professionally in nightclubs in the San Joaquin and Central Valleys and in the San Francisco Bay Area. In ’74, he moved to LA where he eventually signed with ABC records thanks to Steely Dan producer Gary Katz who produced his first album, ‘You Can Sing on the Left or Bark on the Right’. Dirk went on to record 3 more major label records, another one for ABC (‘Alias i’) and two for Elektra (‘Meet Me at the Crux’ and ‘Thug of Love’). He toured the country with his band for 5 years receiving good and rave reviews for his records and live performances but somehow never became a huge commercial success.
In the early 80’s, Dirk traded the record business for a seat at ‘The Shamrock’ a bar below a boxing gym in Stockton, California. To this day he says it was ‘the best deal I ever made’. When he ran out of money, he painted walls and guarded sugar as a rent-a-cop at the Holly Sugar plant near Tracy, California. Eventually he became a counselor for emotionally disturbed teenagers and joined a cover band with his buddy Dave Halford. During the following two years he rediscovered his calling as a songwriter, quit his counseling job and began playing solo in coffee houses and clubs with a new band.
In the decades that followed, Dirk toured Europe and the US every year, playing solo and with bands, and released 14 more CDs on Appaloosa, Fan Club and Comet Records in Italy, also on CORE (Nashville) and his own Acoustic Rock Records in the US. And now, with the release of Live At The Palms by the Dirk Hamilton Band, his music finds a new introduction to music lovers that ant a sound that is a breath of life well lived, and to his existing fans, a renewed gift.
I close this review with apologies to Dirk Hamilton, His Band and to IAC Records for the delay in publishing this review and article, but all words written before would have laid flat on the page with no life, which would be poor tribute to the musical genius in this album, the prior releases and to the life’s work of a truly talented man – Joseph Timmons, IndiePulse Music Magazine.
Photo Credits to Mauro Eufrosini and to Contributors to Dirk Hamilton’s Facebook / Social Media Pages
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