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4/3/04 Touch of Texas, Johnson City, NY
Setlist (courtesy donnabase.com)
In This Life, Tides Of Time, These Are Better Days, Ancient Arms, Conscious Evolution, Blue Sky, Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down, Tee Black, Positive Friction, No Place Like The Right Time, 40 Days & 40 Nights, Sailing, Senor, Pancho & Lefty, Zydeco, Family Picture, Greatest Love Of All, Voice In My Head, Rock Of Ages, Funkyside
Encores: Mother, Give Me Just A Little Time*
*w/ Trevor MacDonald on Rubboard
Just like Texas, only in New York
It was my second trip to the Touch of Texas, and me and Dennis thought we'd seize the opportunity to introduce yet another friend to the band. Rob had enjoyed the Donna discs I'd burned for him, and seemed a likely candidate to get buffaloed at this particular show.
But it didn't look very promising at the start of the trip. Rob had been out late the night before, and so he slept most of the way on the ride up to Johnson City, wanted to sleep for the few brief minutes we were in the hotel, and seemed asleep during dinner. We headed into Touch of Texas around 8:30 and I felt kinda bad for him spending the time and money to join us, as he staked out one of the tables in the side room, put his head down, and went back to sleep.
Then the band came on, and a funny thing happened. Rob trudged out to the middle of the dance floor with us, the music started, people started dancing, and he came alive. He danced from the opening notes of In This Life straight through to the last song of the encore.
For me, watching him "get it" was one of the highlights of the evening. The band turned in its usual competent performance, and while the regulars like Conscious Evolution, Blue Sky, Family Picture and Funkyside were as fun as expected, I more enjoyed some of the tunes I either hadn't heard before or those that get played a little less often.
Sailing was the first of these, as I hadn't seen this beautiful Tara ballad before. She sang it like she meant it, and it made me think how difficult it must be to deliver a song like that when you don't play it every night (this version was only the fourth of the year at that point). Jim took the spotlight next as he sang Senor, and this is one song I don't believe I'll ever get tired of hearing. Then it was Jeb's turn for lead vocals on Pancho & Lefty, a song I knew was in the rotation but hadn't heard them do yet.
Five frantic minutes of zydeco, played I think by request, was the perfect dessert after this trio of ballads, and the band built on the accordion momentum by going into the always-popular Family Picture next. As I recognized the intro of the Greatest Love that followed, I was happy to finally be getting the chance to hear Donna perform this song. Voice In My Head, Rock Of Ages, Funkyside, and the set was over.
What a pleasure it was to get to hear Jim sing again on this night, this time on Mother as the first of a two-song encore. I had seen the band play this song in the middle of an Oh Ma sandwich at a show in NYC the year before, and enjoyed this more straight-ahead version. The night ended on a partying note with Give Me Just a Little Time (for I will surely make you mine), for which Trevor MacDonald of Sunny Weather fame joined in on rubboard. One of the things that blows me away time and time again is how often Donna the Buffalo seem to still be up for playing more, even at the end of a 3-hour set.
And as for Rob, he said he'd never danced at a concert before, and never had some much fun at a concert before. Four months later, he'd be heading down to South Street Seaport in NYC to see Donna again, this time with his girlfriend and another buddy, someone else who was new to the band.