Cafe De Witte Bal, Assen NL - October 26th 2006
by Johanna J. Bodde
All Pics copyright by Peter Pricken

Cafe De Witte Bal, Assen NL - October 26th 2006
After two years of committing all my Thursdaynights to making a radioshow, it feels funny at first to be able to attend concerts again. But I'm in the right mood real quick! The bus drops me off in the center of Assen and Cafe De Witte Bal isn't even very hard to find in these small streets, dripping with rain. JOSEPH PARSONS and his friend TOM GILLAM are unpacking their gear, waiting for the soundcheck and it's sure good to see Joseph again! It's been about eight years now, that I heard him first: a very pleasant surprise opening for Russ Tolman's 2 Car Garage Band in Hamburg. I've been a fan ever since and saw Joseph at various locations, playing solo or with friends. Always great, the guy never has an off-night! Most remarkable memories are probably Terry Lee Hale's birthdayparty in the building of a former swimmingpool in Hannover and that night when I came to Philadelphia on a train from Virginia with three hours delay, so Joseph and I ended up in his car doing the sightseeing around 2 am... I didn't know Tom Gillam yet, but his album "Shake My Hand" was very well received among DJ's and critics here. Waiting for the sound engineer to come in, Joseph sets up his laptop and tries to get an Internet signal, interesting to see how that works. E-mail is the lifeline for musicians these days... While Tom is typing, Joseph replaces all the strings on his acoustic guitar: "Better take no risk!" and he tells that the long European tour is going great. The band just went home and he stays on for a few more weeks of duo and solo shows. We look at the portrait gallery on the walls of this very small place, there's even an old picture of Terry Lee Hale with his dobro and still the long hair! Joseph dropped the intellectual look (short hair, eyeglasses) and went back to what we fans call his "angel" look, yes, I think everybody likes this better. Soundcheck. Tom pulls out a beautiful Gretsch guitar and the pieces of songs I hear, sound very promising. Joseph, ever professional, checks the spotlights and makes sure Tom, who smiles and winks at the light, gets his share. Done.
Half past eight exactly guitar tiger Tom takes the stage. Long dark hair, black shirt, jeans and lots of flashy jewelry. His voice is strong and he starts with the opening track of his album: "Outside The Lines". "I could drive you crazy if you gave me time, I colored a little outside the lines". He learned to say thank you in Dutch, always a nice touch! "Take It Easy On Me", he usually plays it loud with his band but it's nice to do the songs a bit more quietly, he states. The true story of "Stand By You" is followed by the story about two desperate characters: "Abby & Andy". He's definitely an impressive guitarplayer, especially with the slide, I can only imagine how he will rock with a band! He is making fun of the guy who looks like Ozzie and who's going to play guitar with Joseph. The audience agrees that Tom looks like Ozzie. "They never say it in my face, always when I walk away, I hear: "It's Ozzie!" No, it's NOT!" he jokes. He closes off with a song about Dallas, from his previous album. "Believe me, there's nothing in Dallas!" I've been there too and I totally agree with you, Tom!






After a fifteen minute break Tom returns to the stage, now together with Joseph! He has combed the red curls and wears a white t-shirt with his jeans, it has a drawing of hope and faith on it. First song, now I have to take notice, as I don't know the ones from his brandnew album "The Fleury Sessions" very well yet. Yes, this is "King Of Baltimore", followed by "Taken By Surprise", both played nice & fast, while the sound is just excellent and the audience has respect for the music, not talking too much. A song from his former group 4 Way Street, "Change Gonna Come", about "somebody walking around doing a little too much drugs", with a good harmony from Tom's mouth. He's the perfect sideman, gesturing to Joseph that his capo is in the wrong spot for "Circumstance", an old song from the album "5 am", which was just released in Europe when I first met Joseph. "Fool Again" is new, about "a bar at home where we have fun but also cry in our beers" and "Burnin' Fire" is even brandnew, as in not recorded yet. Joseph declares: "One of the reasons I play music, is that I get to play with my friends..." And he has obviously lots of fun doing that. "Accidents", a Hardpan song. Todd Thibaud and Terry Lee Hale joined them for some shows in Germany. Aah, those Hardpan concerts... Now Tom does a marvellous job on originally Chris Burrough's guitar solo. He grabs the slide for a bluesy, pithy take on 4 Way Street's "Shoot The Moon". "When you mention New Jersey, everybody thinks The Sopranos, but it's actually a beautiful state, with beaches..." Tom, who was born there, adds: "And lots of landfills..." "With bodies you mean?" That appears to be the introduction to "Another Way Around" from "The Vagabond Tales", which is done like a beautiful early Springsteen, well, Joseph played Ashbury Park too... The set list is build up very well. After a sunny "Sun Gonna Shine", the opening & closing track of "The Fleury Sessions", Tom leaves the stage while Joseph plays two songs solo. "Ceremony" ("One of my moody songs") dates back in the first version to the "5 am" CD. He even offers to play requests, but how much I would like to hear "Shy" or "World Without Shade", calling out titles asks for more courage than I have available! Tom and his slide are back for "Shine", as Joseph explains it has some deep thoughts about a person's inner self. He goes on about beaches in Turkey and Australia, where he wrote the hopeful song "First Sight", which impresses with a nice high harmony by Tom. "Good Or Bad" is from "The Vagabond Tales" again and then comes the surprise with Steve Earle's "Jerusalem"! Joseph went to Utah for his sister's wedding and at night he heard this song being played around the campfire, so he and Todd Thibaud decided to add it to the setlist of this tour. After "200 Miles", another oldie, the crowdpleasing "Crocodile" arrives! Joseph and Tom turn their toothy pet animal into a mean bluesrocker this time and I expect this to be the last song but Joseph closes off with a moving "Memories". Originally about his neighbor who went to Vietnam: "I think about it every day, those kids in Iraq, these stupid wars..." It ends in a piece of "All Along The Watchtower" and then one-and-a-half hours with nineteen songs are over, leaving the audience a bit dazed and definitely overwhelmed by the smashing show. But I have to pull myself together real quick, as I have only seven minutes left before I have to hurry to the busstop for my last bus. I want a copy of that new album "The Fleury Sessions" and Joseph hasn't autographed my "Vagabond Tales" yet... It works out, I end up in the bus with my two autographed CD's and when I walk home I see for the third night in a row this gorgeous big mushroom. The kind we drew when we were kids, red with white spots on the hood. Nobody, not even a dog, kicked it over. Maybe the world isn't that bad after all...
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, October 28th 2006, for Insurgent Country, Germany.