Billy Bragg / Jill Sobule - live (Cover Artwork)

Billy Bragg / Jill Sobule

live (2006)

live show

I first heard about Billy Bragg when I was just getting into punk rock. Someone played me the song "A New England," and I thought it was really catchy, but dismissed him for the most part (this was in the early `90s). Skip forward about 7-8 years and I find myself moving from New York City to Baltimore, MD. I was moving because I was in the process of getting a divorce, and on my trip moving all of my stuff out of our apartment into my apartment 3 states away, I found myself listening to Billy Bragg's Back to Basics CD. I'd had it for awhile, but never felt any connection to it until this trip. From that point on (August 2001) I found myself desperately trying to find more of Bragg's material. Years later the search has long been complete (I believe I have every CD he has ever recorded as well as a couple bootlegs), I hear about him coming to the U.S. and I get terribly excited.

This tour wasn't long at all; Billy started in Austin, TX and ended in Alexandria, VA last night. The whole tour consisted of 9 shows in 8 venues. Along with him he brought a singer/songwriter named Jill Sobule; my only exposure to her was the mid-`90s song "I Kissed a Girl,", so I went into it not expecting much and can easily say I was very impressed, if not completely blown away. I actually ended up on stage helping her hold a laptop so she could read the words to a Nelly cover. I tried to sing along, but I couldn't keep a straight face. If you get a chance, check her out.

Now let me say that I haven't been excited about going to shows in years. I am 25, and in this community/scene, that is definitely on the old side. Shows have definitely lost their fun/appeal over the years, but I have found myself actually excited twice now in the last month to see bands/performers (the first was the Smoking Popes), and now it was Billy's turn to totally floor me.

Bragg treated the stage more like he was a comedian than a musician. He told heartfelt stories about Rachel Corrie and funny stories about his kids and King Kong's "ghoulies" (my English-to-English dictionary believes he was talking about testicles). His set list included old songs, new songs, some Woody Guthrie covers and an encore of the entire Life's a Riot EP. When he was leaving the stage the first time, I asked if I could grab the set list itself, and he only said if I was fast, so I popped up on stage and walked over and grabbed it. After the show he waited around and met all of his fans, so I had him sign it and make it out to the record store (it will be framed soon). The night was amazing and definitely worth the 7-hour round-trip drive.