Golden Smoggers: Marc Perlman, Kraig Johnson, Gary Louris and Danny Murphy
Welcome home, Kraig Johnson.
That’s what Golden Smog’s gig felt like Saturday at the Fine Line. A homecoming celebration. The second of two nights of Smog was dominated by Johnson on lead vocals, with plenty of vocal contributions from Gary Louris but precious few from Danny Murphy. Johnson, you’ll recall, has been living in New York City. This was the first Smog performance since a 2008 rally for Barack Obama at Target Center.
As with all gigs by this occasional all-star band, this two-hour Fine Line set was spirited, loose and fun. Highlights included the Dylanesque blues-rock stomp "Revolution Blues," the rockin’ "Hurricane" and the always joyous "Until You Came Along." There were covers of Three Dog Night, Neil Young, Roger Miller, the Stones and Eric Clapton. Ed Ackerson sat in on keyboards on several numbers, and Jim Boquist played guitar or bass on a few tunes. Smogger Jeff Tweedy was not missed.
The thrill of witnessing this Smog gig was Jody Stephens, the Big Star dude from Memphis who is a terrific drummer with a wide musical knowledge and vocabulary.
By the by, Johnson wasn’t the only Minnesota-bred music star living in New York at the Fine Line Saturday — Craig Finn of the Hold Steady was there, too, but did not take the stage. Almost didn’t recognize him without his Twins cap and shirt.