Randy Weeks’s Acoustic Rock
by Brett Leigh Dicks
Los Angeles is a town that thrives on hype, and all the L.A.
hipsters know about Randy Weeks’s biweekly shows at Culver City’s
Cinema Bar. Like many who have come before, his performances have
taken on legendary proportions, but, unlike your typical flash in
the pan, Weeks has been going strong for more than five years.
Weeks’s performances are known for being
substantive, with a solid lineup of contemplative songs that wrench
at the heart and relieve the soul. They make you want to cry and
dance at the same time. And though it has been that way since he
first started writing songs, a career in music wasn’t an obvious
path for him to travel.
Born and raised in Minnesota, Weeks ventured to California in
the late ’70s. Fueled by his musical quest, Weeks arrived in L.A.
and stumbled upon The Blasters, whose rowdy roots-infused brand of
rock inspired him. Weeks teamed up with Jeff Rymes as the Lonesome
Strangers, and the pair set about shaping the alt-country scene
that would eventually give rise to the likes of Dwight Yoakam and
“We were quite a bit different from some of the other bands at
the time, which I think we got some mileage out of,” recalled
Weeks. “We were doing old Delmore Brothers songs and old hillbilly
numbers and being loud and [making a] ruckus. We also had kind of a
natural blend within our vocals. Between that and the big backbeat,
we had quite a chemistry going on.”
In the mid ’80s, during a momentary pause from the Lonesome
Strangers, Weeks tried his hand at songwriting, a first for the
musician who, until then, had always played the proverbial second
fiddle. As fate would have it, one of those songs found its way
into the hands of Lucinda Williams.
“The song I wrote,” corrected Weeks with a laugh. “That was the
only one I came up with. When the Strangers split up, I put
together a little band and we were playing at the Palomino and
Lucinda saw us play. She came up to me after the show and said she
liked one of the songs. About three years later she called me up
and told me she had been thinking about the song and asked if I
could send her a tape of it.”
The song in question, “Can’t Let Go,” became a center point of
Williams’s magnum opus, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. And while that
was the only song to surface from his first go at it, Weeks has
since poured out his heart and bared his soul on three impeccably
crafted solo albums. His latest, Sugarfinger, is another melting
pot of tone and temperament with infectious roots-tinged ballads.
So, with material this rich and enchanting, why isn’t he out
challenging the top dogs of the concert hall circuit?
“I wish I knew, man,” laughed Weeks. “I don’t think my music is
all that easy to define. And I think being a little less definable
makes my music a little more problematic for record companies. I
guess I just make a point of making things difficult for
But the concert hall’s loss will be Tales from the Tavern’s gain
as Weeks takes the stage at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez on
Wednesday night for the second installment of its 2007 series. The
evening will see Weeks stepping away from his band, joined instead
by the charismatic Tony Gilkyson for an acoustic evening.
But whether he’s rocking the Cinema Bar or toning things down by
porch light, it’s the musical adventure that propels Weeks. “I have
been playing in Texas and Minnesota a lot, too,” said Weeks. “Oddly
enough, I actually have a band in Austin, one in Houston, and
another in Minneapolis. It’s kind of bizarre, but it has been
really fun because different people interpret songs differently.
Here in Los Angeles, I have played so much with my guys that it’s
rock-solid. But it’s also cool to go off and do something
4•1•1 See Randy Weeks for yourself on
Wednesday, January 31 at 7:30 p.m. at the Maverick Saloon in Santa
Ynez. For more information, call 688-0383 or visit talesfromthetavern.com.