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Live Shots: South by Southwest 2001

River High, Mountain Deep BY CHRISTOPHER GRAY

March 18, 2001: The Last Temptation of Superego Hole in the Wall

According to Paul Minor, one way George Lucas got ready for Star Wars was applying his new Lucasfilm technology to airbrush a big lump of cocaine out of Neil Young's nose in Martin Scorsese's 1975 film The Last Waltz . We all have to start somewhere. And end somewhere, too. Sunday's Austin translation of The Last Waltz brought the curtain down on Superego's six-plus-year run as host band of the Hole in the Wall's Rock & Roll Free For All, with all the grandeur and feeling a roomful of tired musicians could muster. Once Minor and the Conrads got going on a choppy "The Shape I'm In," the lingering exhaustion dissipated and the capacity crowd settled in for a long night of music. Stormy versions of "Absolutely Sweet Marie" and "Powderfinger" set the bar high, but the rest of the "cast" was ready. Fake-bearded Darin Murphy ably manned the drum kit while leading the charge "Up on Cripple Creek." Li'l Cap'n Travis worked in the swaggering "Cinnamon Girl" riff between airy versions of "Lotta Love" and "Twilight," with Trish Murphy joining them for a tender "Helpless." The Golden Arm Trio turned in a circus-parade "Such a Night," and Ted Roddy had his mojo workin' for a deep-down double shot of "Mystery Train" and "Who Do You Love?" Hole owner Jeff Smith was at his surliest for a tense trip through Muddy Waters' "Mannish Boy," then Damnations drummer Conrad Choucroun had everyone feeling the Neil with the dead-on Diamondisms of "Dry Your Eyes" and "Sweet Caroline." As Eric Clapton, the Stingers contributed a slippery "Further On Up the Road" and a nostalgic "Bell Bottom Blues"; much of the night's music, appropriately, carried tinges of loss and the way things used to be. After Van Morrison stand-in Walter Tragert had Irish eyes a-shinin' with "Tura Lura Lural," the home stretch loomed as Superego (including at least three keyboard players) and the Grand Champeen brass band clambered onstage for "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." Next was "The Weight," with Minor, Tragert, Damnation Amy Boone, and surprise ringer Ivan Neville trading verses while the whole crowd sang along. Beaver Nelson and his band got up to do a Dylan set, capped by a heartfelt "Forever Young" and raucous "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" before most everyone crowded around the microphones for a final, transcendent "I Shall Be Released." Before the gratuitous covers started, the Golden Arm Trio played one last, swooping waltz as the audience twirled away the remaining minutes, not really wanting it to be over. It was the kind of thing that used to happen at the old Free For Alls, but we were so much older then. We're younger than that now.

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