Duke’s Indy is located in an industrial area of Indianapolis teeming with transport companies and truck and trailer repair shops. On a Saturday night, this area of town is mostly deserted as drivers and dockworkers enjoy a much deserved evening of rest at home with their families.
In town to disturb the stillness on this night is Bobby Bare Jr. and his crew of Nashville musicians. As I stroll through Duke’s parking lot, a familiar and welcoming fragrance emanating from parked vehicles accompanies me to the entrance. Heads are getting correct and the table is being set for rock and roll time.
Soon The Heart Bionic is cranking like a diesel in downtown traffic. Bare Jr. sips Modelo between songs to cool his vocal cords and slows things down for I’ll Be Around. A lovely song of varying tempos, the music gains strength and asserts itself, then pulls back and slows, reflecting the moodiness of the lyrics. The song concludes with a rousing sing-along before Bare Jr. tells the audience, “That’s the best I got.” While that may or may not be true, it is certainly the case that Bobby Bare Jr. has several more shiny gems and trinkets of gold in his rock and roll treasure chest.
Don’t Wanna Know is a personal favorite of mine. The guitar part brings out the tension of things left unsaid, hurt lurking beneath the surface. Bare Jr. sings, “Please come back to Tennessee. Second best is good enough for me.” The band picks up the tempo and is really grooving through Bare Jr.’s guitar solo. Towards the end of the evening, they play The Big Time and North of Alabama By Mornin’.
I’m a little late to the music of Bobby Bare Jr. But I haven’t heard too many albums, if any, in the past ten years better than 2014’s The Undefeated. I’m glad he played a number of songs off that record. Overall, the set was pretty informal and there was quite a bit of banter and tomfoolery between songs. It kind of reminded me of the old days when bands didn’t take themselves too seriously and partied along with the crowd. Here’s hoping he continues to tour and puts out another album soon.