Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Sept. 30, 2005
Zilker Park, Sept. 23
It's unfortunate Monte Warden chooses to perform in public so infrequently. In the past several years, the local songwriter has perfected his craft, George Strait taking his co-write with Bruce Robison, "Desperately," to No. 1 on the country charts. With unshakable backing by Lisa Pankratz on drums, Brad Fordham on standup bass, and Colin Boyd on lead guitar, Warden laid out exactly why the Austin music scene needs him to hit the stage on a regular basis. His mix of fervent rockabilly, tender-hearted songs, and country rock jangle, presented in an unassuming manner, hit with a resounding force. Warden's voice remains smooth and unaffected, allowing him to reach all those places, and then there are those songs. One of Austin's all-time favorites, "Just To Hear Your Voice" still sounds warm and inviting. Warden shifted into "Desperately" with stylish simmer and then remarked with a grin, "You have no idea how good it feels to sing a hit." In Warden's hands, Buddy Holly's hiccup, Johnny Cash's gospel, and his own country soul all sounded like hits.