Robbie Fulks / Bob Egan / Paul Bellows Sidetrack Café, Edmonton, AB - July 27, 2006

Robbie Fulks / Bob Egan / Paul Bellows Sidetrack Café, Edmonton, AB - July 27, 2006
To any not in attendance for Robbie Fulks, I understand. It’s hot, you’ve spent your country dollars on Wilco, Neko Case and the annoyingly over-amped Son Volt. But you missed the most "entertaining,” crazed show of them all. Honest. Chicago’s Fulks was a forerunning, heroic detractor of the anti-hot-country movement, and like Bilbo, he seemingly hasn’t aged a day since I saw him at the Sutler in Nashville in ’95 (though he may be another foot taller). After some Barenaked Costello energy from local lifesaver Paul Bellows, then a sleepy set of deflating, scraping noise from Bob Egan, giant Fulks came on swinging with the iconic "Rock Bottom, Pop. 1” and "She Took a Lot of Pills and Died.” Visiting his first album several times throughout the night, he laughed out loud at requests, whirling through subsequent tunes about murder, jealousy and a wretched, homeless children’s magician. Repeatedly citing Edmonton for its contribution of SCTV, he deadpanned: "The new Sidetrack? I think it’s better than the old one, even though I never saw it in my life. But it was a total pigsty.” With a Bowie-like gentlemanly charm, he hurled that immense body around, hopping, strumming and voguing until his eyes were sweating, playing Arabic tapestries of guitar with darks tunes like "Cocktails,” "for all the alcoholics out there!” His super-capable four-piece were able to wrestle Hank Williams country, jazzy swing and even funk-rap in the encore. This mind moves at dangerous speeds. And yet only 30 people paid to get in. Who’s to blame? Doesn’t matter — like the subtle arrival of a messiah in the night, the legend’s already flooding outward.