The Old 97’s at Lounge Ax

October 27th, 2009by John RussickFiled under: Collections

Old 97s at Lounge Ax

In the summer of 1996, I was studying architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. Late one night, another student put on a bootleg cassette tape of extraordinary music. The band was the Old 97’s, from Dallas, and the first song I heard was “The Other Shoe” a mid-tempo country song about betrayal and murder. Suddenly, I found my musical foundations crumbling beneath me.

You see, a few years earlier I’d been living in Chicago enjoying the healthy rock scene. Local and national touring acts like the Mekons, Poster Children, Vulgar Boatmen, The Silos, Nirvana, Tad, Lyres, The Service, Eleventh Dream Day, and Green rotated through the local clubs: Lounge Ax, Metro, Batteries Not Included, Thurston’s, and the Avalon. I was aware of bands in Chicago and other American cities that were experimenting with country music, but I’d been raised in rural Illinois and had my fill of country music by the time I was 10. It was everywhere, all the time. From Johnny Cash to Marshall Tucker to the Outlaws, I rejected them all and my home town as soon as I got out of high school. But the Old 97’s changed all that.

When Chicago pals came to Austin’s annual South by Southwest music conference that summer, I raved about the Old 97’s and soon found out that they were old news. Chicago’s own Bloodshot Records were on top of the emerging alt-country music scene and Chicago’s live music lovers were already supporting a great collection of new bands including the Bottlerockets, Freakwater, and Whiskeytown. And I found myself listening to country music again, this time by choice.

Check out the Old 97’s at Lounge Ax c. 1995.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the museum wants to document the history of Lounge Ax. If you have objects or images to donate to the museum please fill out our artifact donation form.

> Chicago History Museum artifact donation form

> Old 97’s “Wreck Your Life” album
> Bloodshot Records

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