Jill Sobule – Lion’s Lair, CO

Playing in her hometown, songwriter Jill Sobule opened for John Doe and the Sadies at the Lion’s Lair on Colfax.

“Playing Denver tonight. I hear the venue is a dive. I hope in a good way. My mom will be there,” she tweeted before the show.

And a dive it was – small and intimate without feeling overly crowded. And it was just right for the set – a mix of songs and well-timed comedy with a touch of mourning for “old” Denver.

She played some new songs from California Years, some old favorites and a few covers.

After Don’t Fuck With Me and before Bobbie Gentry she talked about how Bobbie had disappeared and she had gone online to try and find her. “I may be getting closer,” she said.

“I remember when I was in high school we used to go to Battle of the Bands in Genesee Park,” she said before Cinnamon Park. “And I wrote a song but Genesee didn’t sound as good so it’s called ‘Cinnamon Park’ but it’s about doing mushrooms.” (She did end up singing the last verse with “Genesee” instead.)

She talked for a moment about her new, fan-funded album, California Years and said to watch for a segment about it on CBS Sunday Morning next month.

Before she started Palm Springs she said, “this song is about, I was having a really bad writer’s block, so I thought I’d go out to the desert like all those bands and songwriters did in the early ’70s and this is all I came up with.”

“The reason I did the fan-funded was because the idea of trying to get another record deal and have one of those meetings and hope that they gave me money to do it seemed horrendous,” she explained before Nothing to Prove. “And after one of those meetings, I wrote this song.” She added that her mother was at the show and that she’d have her up to sing in a bit. She also mentioned that her friend Eric, who had been in her first band, was there and asked if he remembered playing at Josephina’s.

She invited Eric up to play accordion and said, “I’ve known John Doe for a long time, one of my first tours was opening for acoustic acts and I always say you can tell people by how they treat waitresses, bartenders and opening acts.”

They led the audience in All The Young Dudes and then she gave the audience a choice between “a song about a fighter killing Nazis or an ex-gay preacher I had a conversation with.” The ex-gay preacher won and she continued, “this is a song I wrote for a guy named Stephen Bennett and his website says he’s ex-alcoholic, ex-cocaine addict, ex-bulimic and ex-gay. And his website is the gayest thing you’ve ever seen. But we had this really nice internet conversation, he was waiting for the rapture. So I wrote a song called The Rapture and it’s really a good sing-along song, and Eric, you don’t know it, but it’s in A.”

Jill and her mom
Jill and her mom

She joked that she’d be back at the merch table selling T-shirts and signing CDs that would be “worth so much after CBS Sunday Morning, or when I kill that person.”

She played a sad ballad, Mexican Wrestler, and then brought her mother, Elaine, (who was wearing a Jetpack shirt) to sing Hot In Here. “It’s kind of an Eastern European version of this song,” Jill said.

Opening the floor to requests for the last song, of which Bitter was chosen. Jill said, “So, you guys know that in ’95 I had a song called, ‘I Kissed a Girl’ and then some skank did a new version of it.

Anyway, here’s a song that I should tell the story of. I was on Atlantic Records and I knew my time was up but they said they wanted to put this out as a single but I knew they weren’t really going to do anything but they said I had to go back and change it. There was the word ‘bitch’ in it. And I thought that was stupid because there was that song, ‘I’m a bitch, I’m a something,’ like that, you know? So I went back and recorded it and took out the word ‘bitch’ and replaced it with ‘cunt’ and it didn’t work out for me.”

During the song she took a moment to share some things she was bitter about, “that they tore down Celebrity Sports Center, I’m bitter because my local drug store, where we used to smoke cigarettes in front of gone, I’m bitter because, remember the Flick, I used to like that, it was in Larimer Square and other than that I’m bitter that that skank stole the title of that song. All I am is really happy because I know there are like 13-year-old-girls that accidentally iTuned my version.”

“Thank you Lion’s Lair and my hometown, Denver.”

Visit Jill’s website or follow her on twitter.

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Photos by Nichole Wagner

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