I tend to judge live performances pretty harshly. If an artist meets my expectations, they get a C. The only way for an artist to get a solid review from me is to exceed my expectations. On Friday night, Adam Hood did just that at Grady’s 66 Pub in Yukon, Oklahoma.
It was my first time seeing Adam Hood, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Hood is a prolific country songwriter in the Texas/Red-Dirt scene, but his own albums tend to rely heavily on his soulful vocal delivery. After seeing him live Friday night, the best way to summarize his live show is to use a quote from audience member Sam Tramel: “This is so much more than Texas country.”
Surprisingly, Hood took the stage with only two other musicians in his band: a bass player and a drummer. The drummer was so new to Hood’s band that he was listening to Hood’s songs on his iPod before each song so that he could get the timing down. Despite this, Hood stood comfortably on the stage with the confidence that only a truly seasoned musician can have.
The show started off with the soulful, hard-hitting vocals of “Hell of a Fight.” Not long afterward, Hood got the house rockin’ like a deep South Alabama juke-joint when he played the rollicking blues number “New Deep Ellum Blues.” With only a bass player and a drummer in the band, Hood had to handle both the rhythm and lead guitar parts himself, and he did so expertly. This is no easy task, and Hood showed his guitar slinging chops throughout the night, displaying his lack of need for another band member.
Midway through the concert, Hood’s bandmates left the stage for a three-song solo set from Hood. Accompanied by only his guitar, Hood honored my request to play “Soulshine,” an Allman Brothers and Warren Haynes classic. Most impressively, Hood lost nothing when his band left the stage, as his guitar playing and incredible vocals filled the room just as effectively.
After the band retook the stage, Hood seemed to be even more laid-back and in command. After constant harassment from my friends and I to “play the blues,” Hood threw in a surprising cover of Albert Collin’s “Too Many Dirty Dishes,” an electric blues classic. Hood did his best Stevie Ray Vaughan impression on the slow blues, and it was received by a standing ovation by several crowd members.
Finally, after a man bought everyone in the crowd four rounds of free drinks (that’s right, FOUR), Hood once again took the stage alone to do a cover of The Rolling Stones classic “Moonlight Mile,” a perfect way to end the show.
Hood is not just an amazing songwriter. Hood is not just a beautifully gritty voice. Hood is not just a sorely underrated guitar player. Adam Hood is the combination of all of three of these things, which combine to make him one hell of a strong live performer.
At the end of the show, I had the privilege to ask him a few questions.
Dallas Terry: Your live show seems to be very important to you. How much of an impact has live music had on our both as a fan and as a performer?
Adam Hood: As a guitar player, if I hadn’t gone to see live music, I wouldn’t know what to do. There are so many ways to play the guitar and if I hadn’t seen it and heard it I wouldn’t be where I’m at. As a performer, I’m not one of those people who can just write something. I have to play it live first. I’ve written songs that I’ve liked that other people didn’t, and songs that I really didn’t like that other people ended up loving. I have to test the songs out live and feel the response. That’s how I get my inspiration.
DT: You mentioned you’re recording a new album. Do you have any details on that yet?
AH: The new album is going to be a little bit more folk-y than anything I’ve done in the past. I have a new single called “Trying to Write a Love Song” coming out at the end of the month.
DT: What have you been listening to throughout the process of recording this album?
AH: I’ve actually been listening to a lot of music by some contemporaries. Wood Brothers, Jason Isbell, Jason Eady.
DT: If ya did an album full of covers, what songs would have to be on it?
AH: John Hiatt – “Thank You Girl.” Eric Clapton – “Steady Rollin Man,” and some songs by some contemporaries like Jason Eady. I’d also do some songs by some friends of mine who have some good songs that haven’t been recorded yet.
DT: If you had to pick one influence that most people wouldn’t be able to guess, who would it be?
DT: You have three albums to take with you to a desert island. What three do you bring?
AH: John Hiatt – “Bring The Family,” Ian Moore – “Got the Green Grass,” The Rolling Stones – “Exile On Main Street.”