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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Neko Case leads the way

Middle East, Cambridge, Mass., May 16, 2000

By Jeffrey B. Remz

CAMBRIDGE, MA - Bloodshot Records has made a name for itself as the darlings of the alt.-country crowd.

The home of Robbie Fulks, Alejandro Escovedo and a slew of others isn't necessarily always so country, and that was also the case in the pairing of Neko Case and Kelly Hogan.

Case, touring behind her second album on the Chicago label, opted for more of a straight-ahead country delivery with much emphasis on the vocals.

Decked out in black boots, saying she didn't feel like changing, Case heavily emphasized her new release, "Furnace Room Lullaby," playing only one song from her debut.

Case started in good style with the lead-off track of "Furnace...," "Set Out Running," with a strong voice somewhat reminiscent of Kelly Willis.

She kept the country quotient high during the hour-long set, including "Favorite," a song on the upcoming Bloodshot fifth anniversary compilation.

Taking a bathroom break at one point, Case returned with guitarist Andy Hopkins with "South Tacoma Way" where she came off more as a chanteuse than a country crooner.

Case was ably backed by the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, well some of them anyway. Pedal steel man Jon Rauhouse, formerly with The Grievous Angels, was particularly strong. Tom Ray, ex-Bottle Rocket, played bass, while newcomer Keith Perry played the drums.

The band scored points throughout the set.

Hogan opened in a set mixing country, Stax and a dose of rock. She sang well enough, especially a cover of the Magnetic Fields' "Papa Was a Rodeo."

While a good, but not captivating, set overall, Hogan could improve in the performance area. She made several comments that only the band would know what they meant and often looked through the audience.

Still with Case leading the way, Bloodshot was well represented.