Rhett Miller: Bell House 29 January 2017

I was early to Gowanus so, on my way to The Bell House, I stopped off at the Four & Twenty Blackbirds to finally try their pie. I only killed twenty minutes and their crust is not as good as mine. As I got nearer to the club I was thinking about what I would say to Rhett Miller if I saw him when suddenly the back door of the club opened and out walked Rhett and a woman, who he was talking to, and I froze. Then I was thinking that if they were on their way to the pie shop, I would be royally pissed.

The Bell House was empty. I asked the bartender if this was normal – I hadn’t been to the club in a while and usually there were neighborhood people hanging out in the front bar. He said it was normal and most people wouldn’t show up until 8pm for the show. Seven of us were waiting in the lobby between the front bar and the club for the doors to open. An officious woman told us to wait in the bar and closed the lobby doors. Three minutes later she opened the doors to the lobby and to the club. Normally I don’t drink anything caffeinated but I’d had a café au lait at the pie shop. So I decided to get a Ketel One on the rocks to counteract the caffeine and stood by the stage and waited for rtb. I just ended up being drunk and wide awake.

Opening act Clarence Bucaro was another guy with an acoustic guitar. He had a good voice and his lyrics and guitar playing was not overly complicated. He was tapping his foot very lightly and there were so few people in the club that I could hear the tapping clearly. He did an older song, “I am a Refugee,” that is relevant today. There’s a duet with Allison Moorer on his latest cd and he’s got new cd coming out in June.



Rhett came out to a good-sized crowd. There was little talking and just a few “woos” from Rhett during the show. A guy in the audience bought Rhett a beer and set it on the stage and Rhett never touched or acknowledged it. Later I read that he’s not drinking anymore. He was in very good voice, so I guess the non-drinking is helping in that department. Rhett did some songs off the latest Old 97’s record (that I’ve heard him do a few times before so I was familiar with them) and a lot of songs that we love to hear over and over from both the band and his solo records. We also heard songs that I don’t think I’ve ever heard him or the band do live.

He mentioned that Brandi Carlile is the voice of God on the record, so, yes, God is a woman. He realized that the beginning of the song was the same as “Jagged” so a pedal steel was added. He said that “Desperate Times” was prescient. Ken Bethea (Old 97’s guitarist) didn’t want to include “She Hates Everybody” on the new album because he didn’t think anyone would know what misanthrope meant. Before “Jesus Loves You,” he said the narrator wasn’t him. For the encore, Rhett just stood behind the curtain at the back of the stage and all we could see were his shoes. There was fast guitar for “Question.” When making up the set list, Rhett said he was wondering what the last song should be and then realized, “Did I have a stroke?” I love seeing Rhett live and never get tired of hearing his songs.

Set list

Lost Without You
Desperate Times
Reasons to Live
Good with God
Big Brown Eyes
The Easy Way
Won’t Be Home
Longer Than You’ve Been Alive
Help Me, Suzanne
Buick City Complex
No Simple Machine
Curtain Calls
She Hates Everybody
Rollerskate Skinny
The Other Shoe
A State of Texas
Jesus Loves You
Barrier Reef
Our Love


Most in the Summertime







By Carene Lydia Lopez