Patty GriffinThe Castle, Friday, March 15
It was the kind of record label party that doesn't happen very often these days. Open bar, barbecue from Lamberts, a goody bag, and appearances by labelmates Steve Earle, Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale, and the Mastersons in a mission-styled church from the Twenties elaborately furnished into a unique residence/reception space in South Austin. All to announce that Austin's Patty Griffin has signed to New West and has a new disc due May 7, American Kid. Griffin played 30 minutes of new songs and first blush showed off as diverse a collection of songs as she's ever released. She began with a briskly strummed stomp, "Don't Let Me in Florida," after which she explained, "I'm so nervous that I left out a verse to that." Then she announced that March 16 is her 49th birthday, offering another reason to celebrate. The songs on American Kid were conceived on the highways between Nashville and Austin, Griffin noted before playing a poignant story about a loose dog she saw on one of those roads, "Wild Old Dog." There was a song about her grandparents that was old-timey and bawdy, but she wrapped it up tenderly, as she does on the record, with torchy ballad "Gonna Miss You When You're Gone."