at Roots Rock Celebration in Ringwood!
A Archive Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

The Bottle Rockets continued their 15th Anniversary celebration with a live performance at the Cupsaw Concert Series in Ringwood, New Jersey on July 27, 2008. Since it was a house concert food and socializing were part of the festivities before and after the show including a cake to mark the special occasion.

The Bottle Rockets Rock Ringwood

The Bottle Rockets are Brian Henneman (guitar & vocals), Mark Ortmann (drums), John Horton (guitar) and Keith Voegele (bass & vocals). Their music is described as working man's rock, blending alt-country with rural rock. Their songs are earthy, engaging and energetic.

In several ways the Cupsaw concert was performed on the fly. First, the band was stripped down with Mark playing a partial drum kit and Brian strumming an acoustic rather than an electric guitar to limit the loudness. The Bottle Rockets did not bring a set list. After starting with an up-tempo, country flavored song from their first album they played over twenty tunes that their fans suggested as the show progressed.

The Bottle Rockets Rock Ringwood

Although the approach to the set list was causal the music was still concise featuring lush leads and reliable rhythms. Brian chatted between tracks, evaluating the requests and sharing stories about some of the songs.

"Gravity Fails" - with its catchy chord structures and clever lyrics - was striking as was "Thosuand Dollar Car" with the underlying message of struggle flowing over a snappy rhythm and guitar groove. Brian joked about the car, further describing a '77 Chrysler New Yorker with an 8-track player that got stuck on one song per tape.

The Bottle Rockets Rock Ringwood

Henneman mentioned that the band is working on a record in Brooklyn, New York and someone in the crowd encouraged the Bottle Rockets to play something new.

"At least it would be something we know as we really have been concentrating on the new stuff," jested Brian before playing an upbeat track with a country feel that included some nice slide work by John.

A man in the balcony requested "Brand New Year".

"That's 2 chords so we can't screw it up," commented Brian. It was a smoky, sultry song with a sad sentiment. Before barreling into a prickly "Middle Man" Brian alluded to the missing bass drum.

The Bottle Rockets' songs are compelling and filled with situations and stories that people can relate too with varied and interesting instrumentation. "Radar Gun" was speedy with shot gun percussion and smoking guitars that concluded with a tale about a radio DJ who got out of a speeding ticket when the police officer requested that the song be played at five PM that day.

The Bottle Rockets Rock Ringwood

The tune about a local bar and the house band that played "Sweet Home Alabama" Chinese style was amusing and included a foot stomping rhythm and twangy vocals that captured the scenes of a sleepy local watering hole.

The new tune "Hard Times" was a robust rocker heavy with hooks as are lots of the Bottle Rocket songs. The interactive concert continued with a skillful mix of snappy songs and a few slower paced numbers. The band appeared to enjoy playing to an attentive audience and the fans had fun with the music and requests. Thus, another successful show at the Cupsaw Concert Series (Thanks Drew) and for the Bottle Rockets who are still going strong since their inception in 1992!

Upcoming Cupsaw Concerts
September 13, 2008: Jesse Malin
October 5, 2008: Darden Smith
October 19, 2008: Willie Nile
October 26, 2008: John Wesley Harding

The Bottle Rockets Rock Ringwood

Related Links: For more information on Bottle Rockets and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links --

Bottle Rockets CD

(Originally Published on July 28, 2008)




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