Live Review: The Minus 5, The Baseball Project, & The Steve Wynn IV @ The 40 Watt, Athens, September 28

[ 0 ] September 30, 2009 |

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By Scott Roberts; photos by Sue
Volkert

Steve Wynn may be the luckiest man
alive. His former band The Dream Syndicate created one of the most enduring and
beloved albums of the 1980s, 1982’s The
Days of Wine and Roses
, and Wynn used that as a springboard to a steady,
respectable solo career that began with their demise and has continued to the
present. Last year he formed The Baseball Project, a band that combined his
love for baseball and rock 'n' roll, and they released the CD Volume One: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails to
stellar reviews and even an appearance on David Letterman. Now that band,
featuring Young Fresh Fellow/Minus 5-er/REM sideman Scott McCaughey, Rock and
Roll Hall of Famer/also Minus 5-er Peter Buck, and Wynn’s lovely
wife/powerhouse drummer Linda Pitmon, is in the middle of a short tour playing
songs from every part of Wynn’s lengthy career (as well as allowing the
49-year-old rocker to lend his underrated guitar skills to several Minus 5
songs and choice covers), a tour that included a stop Monday night at The 40 Watt
in Athens.

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The band hit the stage at 9:30 with Wynn looking youthful and dapper in
a classic smoking jacket (of all the musicians from the early ‘80s, he seems to
have aged the best — yet another reason why he may be the luckiest man alive!),
Buck on bass, and McCaughey taking on the role of the Master of Ceremonies with
his extemporaneous witty banter. They opened with the destined-for-Baseball
Project-Volume 2 song “Ichiro Goes To The Moon” then proceeded to chug through
a 16-song set that mixed Minus 5 songs with Baseball Project songs and classic
Dream Syndicate tunes “That’s What You Always Say” and “Tell Me When It’s Over,”
all of which seemed to please the appreciative 40 Watt crowd.

After a half hour break, the band came back up to do another full set
joined on guitar for a few songs by REM bassist Mike Mills making the already
garagey-sounding ensemble even more garagey, with the highlight being a
blistering, extended “Days of Wine and Roses.” To top it off, the band was
joined at the end of the evening by former REM drummer/current farmer Bill
Berry who was positively beaming behind the drum kit during the covers “The
Ballad of John & Yoko,” “Hang On, Sloopy,” and “Teenage Head.” All in all,
in addition to Wynn, I’d say the audience was pretty lucky, too.

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