When Slaid Cleaves moved from Portland, Maine, to Austin, Texas, in 1991, he landed on South Lamar Boulevard, a few blocks from Horseshoe Lounge. But as he points out on his new live album, “It was many years of drivin’ by before I worked up the courage to come in through the door.”
When he first contemplated a live album, Slaid turned to the massive collection of performance recordings he’s acquired during his decades on tour.
“I thought, ‘How can I make a live record special?’” Slaid explains. ‘Well, it has to be in a special place.’” It makes perfect sense; so many of his songs reference watering holes anyway. Sorrow & Smoke fully conveys the spirit of an intimate yet jovial crowd: Clinking beer bottles. Laughter. Sing-alongs. Good-natured heckling. “The give and take, this sort of conversation I have with the audience,” he says.