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Four things we loved about Rhett Miller and Evan Felker at World Cafe Live

Rhett Miller and Evan Felker perform together at World Cafe Live
Photograph: Chris Sikich

Rhett Miller of the Old 97’s and Evan Felker of the Turnpike Troubadours brought a unique show to World Cafe Live Thursday night. Playing acoustically, they did a song swap, playing their own separate works and then teaming up on a number of pieces. Check out these photos and highlights from the night.

1. Miller still entertains, even after all these years.

Rhett Miller at World Cafe Live

Miller showed us why the Old 97’s, who celebrate 25 years in 2018, are so enduring—even as he stripped away the surround sound to perform acoustic versions of familiar songs. Song highlights? There was the stirring “Good with God” and “Big Brown Eyes” was damn entertaining. He also brought out a rarity, the never-released “Pine Bluff,” showing that he still has some tricks up his sleeves.

2. Felker brings gritty country to the forefront.

Evan Felker at World Cafe Live

Playing a more traditional country music role than the alt-country Old 97’s, Felker’s Turnpike Troubadours bring some great stories to life. On Thursday, works like “The Bird Hunters” and “Diamonds & Gasoline” stung the ears with their acoustic resonance. As a packed room called for songs, Felker obliged, exemplifying a true love between audience and performer.

3. The duo is greater than its parts.

Rhett Miller and Evan Felker at World Cafe Live

Miller often played a bit of percussion in this stripped-down setting, while Felker sang about his colorful characters. Felker popped in for some lyrical muscle or provided a harmonica-backing, which was especially stunning on the set-closing “Longer Than You’ve Been Alive.”

4. No hand injury could prevent this show.

Rhett Miller and Evan Felker at World Cafe Live

The encore began with the revelation that Felker was at the doctor earlier in the day for an X-ray on his right hand. Though he could barely clap, he and Miller led the crowd in a rousing cover of John Hartford’s “Long Hot Summer Day” in the encore, one of the finest moments in a stupendous show.

Evan Felker at World Cafe Live

 

Rhett Miller at World Cafe Live
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