The Dave Rawlings Special: Bitta heat, bitta cool, cowboy hat. All folk. All photos (c) Matthew Keefer

…and led us to the weekend, which we hit/ Just like a freight train. Got there early/ We couldn’t wait… for Gillian Welch and headlining collaborator, Dave Rawlings. The Dave Rawlings Machine, comprised of Welch, Willy Watson, Paul Kowert and, of course, Mr. Rawlings himself, were joined by Miss. Brittany Haas to tour for his sophomore solo, Nashville Obsolete, which we’re totally digging right now. You likely will dig it, too.

Welcome to the Machine. (L to R) Kowert, Welch, Watson.

You know why we say that? Because it’s restrained, pared-down folksy country, the kind that you might hear around the barn on an off night. Acoustic, down-to-earth, simple; a fresh breath. Mr. Rawlings + Machine opened on “The Weekend” and about half the show came off of Nashville Obsolete grooves; but the highlights? This lass’ fiddle:

Fiddle me this, fiddle me that. Brittany Haas.

Arco or pizzicato (that’s bowing or plucking), the girl knows her folkin’ grooves. Boston-based, she was well at home with the Machine on Saturday.

Another highlight? Dave Rawlings, a few songs in: “I bet you were all waiting for me to pick up this banjo… They say [Providence]’s a banjo-lovin’ town.” He was not wrong.

And another, you say? Rawlings: “We’re all waiting to hear a dirty song.” Turns to Willy Watson. “Keep it real greasy.”
Watson sings a cover of “Keep it Clean.” (Ultimate dad joke; g thx dav rawlings)

And that was the first half…


If we had to compliment Dave Rawlings and crew on anything, it would be on their ability to read a crowd. Providence, ourselves included, was in a mood to sing. SING. And the second part of the show was just that. A bit of “Sweet Tooth” via Rawlings and Welch; some of “This Land Is Your Land”, and certainly Rawlings had it pegged: “It’s startin’ to sound like a folk concert in here.” Watson got some sing-along in him, too (and some pipes! Clear, country and emotive) and for the record, we clearly should’ve caught him at the Newport Folk Fest on multiple occasions.

If we were to compliment Rawlings further, it would be this: the man knows how to please a crowd. Visibly exhausted during the encore, Rawlings caved into the raucous crowd, the barn-stomping and unified clapping aching to have more. Like we said, he caved in to one more, exasperated and flattered, though he had to give it over to Watson for “Midnight Special.” It was a demanding crowd, yes, and as a performer of experience and wisdom, Rawlings knew it was his place to give in to that one demand.

The Man With No Eyes. Willy Watson.

Our verdict? We well-enjoyed ourselves, and though we kind of hate live reviews (you don’t get to see the performers after the fact) we’re going to suggest y’all amble on down next time they’re in town. Gillian Welch nails it year after year at the Newport Folk Fest, and so did Dave Rawlings on Saturday. And pre-review of Nashville Obsolete – he sung our song! He sung “Pilgrim (You Can’t Go Home)”!

Hope you made it this time, and we’ll catch y’all at the next one *spits tobaccy*

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