Patterson Hood rolls in to the Cactus, ACL


Andy Tennillee

Patterson Hood, also a member of Drive-By Truckers, will be performing in Austin beginning on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Andy Tennille.

Ricky Stein

In the 57-plus-year history of the rock ‘n’ roll singer/songwriter, a recognizable archetype has emerged: that of the brash blues-shouting rock band frontman who can also lay down the electric guitar and bear his or her soul with a set of sparse, introspective, acoustic-based songs. It is a trend that arguably began with Bob Dylan, was mastered by Neil Young and has continued through the years with albums by songwriters such as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Beck, Ryan Adams and Dylan’s son, Jakob Dylan.

Patterson Hood is a proud inheritor of this tradition. As singer/songwriter and bandleader for the Drive-By Truckers, his primary job is to bash out straight-ahead dirty Southern rock in ballrooms and music halls across the country. However, over the last decade, and despite the Truckers’ relentless touring and recording schedule, Hood has also managed to release three intimate, stripped-down solo records, the last of which, Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance, came out in September.

“The Truckers, we kind of thrive on a certain amount of anarchy,” Hood said via telephone, about 170 miles outside of San Diego en route to Austin. “Like, I never tell anyone what to do more than maybe a suggestion at the most in that band. So with this I had this very specific … I wanted it to be sparse, I didn’t really want any kind of lead guitar-type playing or anything like that. I wanted to keep it personal and intimate.”

This week Hood will bring his softer acoustic approach to two Austin stages: a two-night stand beginning Wednesday at UT’s Cactus Cafe, followed by a 6:30 p.m. Friday performance on the BMI stage as part of the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

“I’m totally psyched about all of it,” Hood said. “Austin’s always been one of my favorite cities. In the last few years it’s kind of hit where we get to Austin and then have another show the next day somewhere else and we don’t get to hang out. So it’s going to be cool having, like, three days there. That’ll be a great experience.”

Hood is accompanied on the road by his backing band, the Downtown Rumblers, as well as fellow Athens, Ga., residents Page and Claire Campbell of the alt-folk duo Hope For Agoldensummer. The group is in the final leg of a four-week tour that wraps up Thursday in Central Texas before Hood rejoins the Truckers.

“It’s been great, one of my favorite tours ever,” Hood said. “When I put this tour together, we were very careful to kind of book it mainly in venues that were small and intimate and that tended to be seated shows, more like the Cactus. But we also had like three festival shows mixed in with it, and I was kind of curious how this show would work on the big outdoor stage kind of thing. But it’s really kind of amazed me how well it’s worked. The show the other day in San Francisco was at Golden Gate Park, and, I mean, there were literally thousands of people there, and it went over really, really good. It worked in that setting far better than I ever would have predicted.”

The band will play Wednesday and Thursday night at the Cactus at 8:30 p.m. before hitting the big stage at ACL Friday. It will be Hood’s first performance at the revered venue since a South By Southwest showcase for ‘No Depression” back in 2006.

“I think it’s going to be great,” Cactus Cafe manager Matt Muñoz said. “This album in particular is a little bit less Drive-By-Trucker-y, in-your-face kind of rock ‘n’ roll and a little bit more of an Americana thing. So I think it’s the right room.”