Dave Rawlings Machine @ Amoeba, SF

I arrived an hour early thinking that the place would be mobbed for Rawlings and Gillian Welch. Much to my surprise, it was a normal mid-afternoon crowd. About 45 minutes later, after losing myself in vinyl stacks, I look over by the stage and it is packed. I hauled on over and find a good spot one row back. At just a minute or so past 530, Rawlings, Welch, that dude from the Old Crow Medicine Show and two others literally walked through the store and right onto the stage. Rawlings was all smiles as he looked at the folks filling the aisles.

One microphone. Two acoustic guitars. Whatever kinda guitar it is that Rawlings plays like it's coming from the heavens. Stand-up bass. Banjo later. Maybe something I'm forgetting. They opened with the jubilant "Monkey and the Engineer." The room erupted as it ended. Five musicians playing Americana or folk or rock n' roll, with a fierce passion. Later came the beautiful "Bells of Harlem," the stunning "Ruby" and the Ryan Adams co-penned "To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)" which blew Adams' version out of the water.

The set was only about a thirty minutes, but like Oldham down in Big Sur, Slint at Bimbo's or Son Volt at the Fillmore, it was just one of those shows. Rawlings and his band make and perform music that seems to be straight from the woods, or the ground, or the stars. It was that beautiful and that captivating. Five unbelievable musicians playing every single note like it truly mattered. And boy did it matter.