Joe Ely & Joel Guzman

Live Cactus! (Rack 'Em)

Texas Platters

Joe Ely & Joel Guzman

Live Cactus! (Rack 'Em)

Though Joe Ely has released multiple live discs throughout his career, Live Cactus! is unlike anything he's ever done. Over the course of an hour, Ely's guitar and voice and the magnificent accordion style of longtime compadre Joel Guzman travel over dusty highways to desolate border towns and West Texas flatlands, romancing an appreciative Cactus Cafe audience with a passion that's palpable. Song choices span from 1978's "Because of the Wind" to last year's "Miss Bonnie and Mr. Clyde," with the requisite nod to Butch Hancock on "Winds Gonna Blow You Away" and Townes Van Zandt on "White Freightliner Blues." The unusual power of the performance comes in part from Guzman's ability to get his accordion to wail like a guitar or flutter like a cool breeze at dusk. The real stars, though, as with all his work, are the stories Ely tells and the magical way he transports his listeners into a distinctive space and time.

***.5

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Joe Ely & Joel Guzman

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