Back before Austin’s South by Southwest music extravaganza grew out of control, it was actually something that a commoner like myself could enjoy. Case in point was one of 1992’s featured separate admission shows (though only a mere $5): the lone Austin appearance on the lone tour of rock “super group” Little Village.
With John Hiatt and Nick Lowe on-board, this was a no-miss show for me since these two have always consistently been among my favorite artists. Five years earlier, Nick Lowe grabbed his bass and teamed up with guitarist Ry Cooder and legendary session drummer Jim Keltner to serve as the backing combo for Hiatt’s career-defining Bring the Family record. Now the quartet were back together touring Europe and the USA in support of their eponymous and only long-playing effort.
The Terrace was your typical non-descript open room, and we all stood to hear Little Village skillfully perform songs from their record and Bring the Family while throwing in some Cooder (“Across the Borderline”) and Lowe (“Half a Boy and Half a Man”) cuts as well. However, through the legacy of Bring the Family, Little Village whether they tried to or not, very much came across as Hiatt’s band.
All in all, it was great to see this collection of talent on one stage for a single price of admission. However while, Cooder, Hiatt and Lowe all shone in their moments in the spotlight, the Little Village entity wasn’t much more than a crack backing band supporting these three great, but different and distinct solo artists.
Still, the record is a fun listen with Hiatt’s “Don’t Think about Her When You’re Trying to Drive” being the standout track. Every completist should know that there are also a few B-sides to track down. To hear how the live show was, seek out the WXRT-FM broadcast from Chicago’s Arie Crown Theatre or the Westwood One syndicated broadcast from San Francisco’s Warfield Theater. You might even find the latter on a radio station CD copy as pictured below.
Perhaps though the best thing about this band is the story as to how they took their name from this Sonny Boy Williamson II record.