After a short introduction, Eric Brace steps up to the microphone with the statement, “Throw my ticket out the window, throw my suitcase out there too. Throw my troubles out the door, I don’t need them anymore, ‘cause tonight I’ll be staying here with you.” The words are borrowed from Bob Dylan but like everything that Last Train Home touched, they make it their own. Recorded on April 13and 14, 2007, Last Train Home captured sets at IOTA in Arlington, Virginia. The shows celebrated both the venue and the band. Both came together in their infancy and spent ten years growing into a premier performance space and a group that had achieved national status, and played nearly 200 shows at IOTA.
Eric Brace was a staff writer for The Washington Post where he was a columnist covering the local music and nightlife scene from 1996 to 2003. Last Train Home came into being through recordings that Eric began in 1996, with the eponomously named Last Train Home E.P. seeing its release in 1997. They solidified the industry buzz with True North, released in 1999 and were named Washington D.C.'s "Artist of the Year" by the Washington Area Music Association in January, 2003. Last Train Home relocated to East Nashville in 2004 and quickly became a part of Nashville's independent music scene. LTH was named one of the finest live acts of 2005 by The Tennessean in a Best Show tie between Neil Young at the Ryman and Last Train Home at the Family Wash.
Live at IOTA captures Last Train Home with a stage full of players including guitars, keyboards, drums, bass, pedal steel and horns rambling through a mix of Roots Rock that features touches of folk, bluegrass, soul, country, swing and blues. The band showcases their playing power with a few well- crafted medleys throughout the show. “Quarter to Three/Come Back, Baby” marries an Eric Brace tune with a public domain song, changing the pace from a hurried rhythm into a slow moving sizzle in the process. “Louisiana/Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down/Ain’t Living Like This” puts the words of Eric Brace, Merle Haggard and Rodney Crowell together for ten minutes of audio ecstasy.
Last Train Home cooked on stage and Live at IOTA fully realizes the group’s potential. “Hendersonville”, a tune written by Eric for June and Johnny Cash, tenderly envisions the next step in life, lying beside the one with whom you have walked. “My Sally” is a dark country tale of lost love and bad decisions; “I Flew Over Our House Last Night” is classic country love letters at 30,000 feet, and “Flood” soundtracks the river rising to edgy Alt Country. “Dogs on the East Side” honors Eric Brace’s Red Beet Records home in East Nashville on a Tin Pan Alley influenced tune, and “Say Won’t You Be Mine” closes the live disc with a roof-raising rhythm that surely packed the dance floor back in 2007 during the recording.
Live at IOTAmarks a place in musical history with the recording of a band that got it right. Listening to the album, you can tell that Last Train Home is having as good a time as the audience. DANNYMCCLOSKEY/RA
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