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Tuesday October 17, 2017
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The Hummingbirds



fresh and full of strong emotions, and they find simple and effective ways of situating their songs in the present. One of the best is "Cry on the Freeway," a waltz, sparsely accompanied with mandolin, about when it's "time to cry on the freeway, all the way home." "Six ninety-six is full of its tricks/Bending and winding its way through the sprawl," Wood sings. "Well, I'm screaming my head off, like a lone Rolling Stone, cryin' on the freeway, all the way home." With vivid economy, the basic barroom emotion of the classic honky-tonker is transferred to the world of younger clubhoppers.

Each Hummingbirds song is a carefully assembled unit, with sparingly applied rock guitar textures grafted onto old two-step and waltz rhythms in such a way as to highlight the idea of the song. At Top of the Park last summer, and again at Conor O'Neill's a few weeks ago, I heard the Hummingbirds expanding their range, both instrumentally and

lyrically. The TOP show showcased several of their new songs. "Nebraska Snow" is a more detailed and resonant portrait than they've done up to this point, of a woman left alone in a midwestern winter, "mixing Mai Tais in a blender, reading postcards sent from San Diego." "Where can you go in Nebraska snow, when you can't see the road up ahead?" she worries. "I don't think I can remember/A time I felt so cold."

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