Tommy Stinson — Show Review
At first blanch, it might seem like connecting Tommy Stinson to Americana music is a bit of a stretch, given his role with The Replacements and Guns & Roses. But as too few people know, his talent goes far beyond playing bass with those iconic bands.
And too few people were in the audience Wednesday when Stinson kicked off his winter solo tour at Pearl Street Warehouse in Washington, D.C., entertaining a small crowd of about 50 diehards with songs from his own catalogue. The crowd size could be blamed on the weather — D.C. had 10 inches of snow on Monday — but more likely it was due to the ongoing pandemic.
“Welcome to the first night of the OMG Variant Tour. Thank you for coming and risking your life man,” Stinson said after playing his second song, the appropriately titled “Bad News.”
Seven of the songs in Stinson’s set came from his two Bash & Pop albums, the first of which (“Friday Night (Is Killing Me)”) came out in 1993 and the second (“Anything Could Happen”) followed 23 years later. He also performed several songs that will be on an upcoming Cowboys in the Campfire album with Chip Roberts that comes out later this spring.
Stinson’s first Bash & Pop album, released two years after The Replacements broke up, should have been his “All Things Must Pass.” Although Stinson was featured on vocals on only one song released during the band’s tenure — a couple have come out on subsequent box sets — the bass player who started with the group as a 12-year-old was writing his own material. Like George Harrison, who was not a co-equal in The Beatles, he had a classic album in waiting when the volatile group split.
“Friday Night (Is Killing Me)” is a great cult record, merging the best of The Faces and The Rolling Stones with acoustic-ish pieces that would fall right in line with Americana classics. “Anything Could Happen” is equally good, if not better.
Even though new material has been a long time coming, Stinson’s songwriting chops are still in top form. Like the best Americana music, Stinson’s songs work because of the stories they tell. He’s a truly engaging performer, walking out into the crowd to perform “All This Way for Nothing” and stopping at tables before and after the show to greet those brave enough to come out.
New songs “Fall Apart Together,” about a co-dependent couple who can’t seem to rid themselves of the relationship, and “The Man Who Drank Himself to Death” (self explanatory) sit nicely beside the “Bash & Pop” songs, as do “Zero to Stupid” and “Match Made in Hell.” I’m hopeful the Cowboys and the Campfire album comes out soon.
Equally enjoyable was Stinson’s opening act, Diane Gentile, a native New Yorker whose voice is a cross between Patti Smith and Julie Miller. Gentile, who is used to performing with her band (Diane and the Gentle Men) played a quick 35-minute set of new songs and tracks from her album, The New Sea. Highlights were the new “Shimme,” “The Last Train,” a lovely “Winter Girl” and the closer, “Little Things.”
Tommy Stinson and Diane Gentile are on tour through Jan. 25. For specific shows, go to http://www.tommystinson.com.
To see my essay on The Replacements’ reunion tour, go to my Substack page here.
For more photos from the show, visit my Flickr page.