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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Owner pulls the plug, but that doesn't stop Slaid Cleaves

Johnny D's, Davis Square, Somerville, June 10, 2004

By Jeffrey B. Remz

SOMERVLLE, MA - Not even having the plug pulled on his performance nine songs into it by the owner of the club after a dispute about televisions being left on deterred a red hot Slaid Cleaves from turning in a sterling performance.

And a most unusual performance it was for the Maine native, who now lives in Austin. Cleaves started off before a large crowd at Johnny D's and ended up finishing off his set with an hour-long acoustic set around the corner on a common bricked patio area with 80 fans encouraging him.

Cleaves toured behind "Wishbones," his recent Philo/Rounder album, which is probably his best. Cleaves opted for a more country sound as opposed to a Dylanesque sound veering towards folk.

Cleaves, a fine storyteller in his songs, started off real strong with "Road Too Long" from the new disc before delving into "Horseshoe Lounge." Both were easy going rootsy/country sounding songs.

At that point, Cleaves seemingly joked about not playing until the two television screens in the bar area were shut.

And perhaps as an indication of what was to come, Cleaves launched into "Trouble Bound," described as the sequel to "Horseshoe Lounge" and perhaps his best known song, "Broke Down."

Cleaves was clearly on fire, singing well and ably backed by Dobro ace Jeff Plankenhorn, bassist Ivan Brown and drummer Rick Richards.

But the stellar evening inside the club soon turned sour. Cleaves wanted the TVs showing the NBA finals off, and the club obliged by shutting one.

Cleaves was not happy and marched off the stage a few songs later to shut off the second TV only to have someone turn it back on.

Cleaves talked about playing another club next time he returned to the Boston area. With that the club owner walked to the stage and told Cleaves to stop playing.

He complied and left to his van. With fans booing the decision to cut off Cleaves and then getting their refunds, Cleaves eventually resurfaced in the Davis Square common area.

He played for another hour - all acoustic - and doing a fine job, not letting the previous problems affect his show.

Cleaves turned in a good performance on "Texas Top' where he yodeled for the second time during the night and later a great version of the touching "Lydia."

Cleaves mixed it up outside and had his band sans drummer with him all to good affect.

It was one strange evening, but Cleaves overcame it all to show that the acclaim he has received is deserved.