Thursday June 4th I was debating with myself whether or not I wanted to hit the town. Having only been to Snookers once before, and it being a work night I was leaning towards staying home. It then came to my attention that this was to be the final Drop Out Night at Snookers, as Providence’s best pool hall would be changing locations later this summer. I’d only recently heard of Drop Out Night, a summer Thursday night acoustic music tradition on the smoker’s deck at Snookers, though this would be the final show after a three year run. It was after 15 minutes of circling the side streets and back alleys of Providence before I recognized the area surrounding Snookers, without my brother Tim, a human GPS for Rhode Island, on hand, I had to rely on directions I’d scribbled from MapQuest. Either a combination of construction in town made the directions convoluted, or my illegible chicken scratch had fooled me into a wrong turn, regardless I was there plenty early to chat a bit with Kris Hansen and Big Jon Tierney before they began their set.
Once the first few guests arrived it was time for them to begin, Kris began to circle the crowd and spread hellos, as well as his merry cheer as Big Jon broke into his first number “Had Enough.” It had good poetic lyrics, as well as strum patterns. Raising the level of the vocals with the emotions in the song, it was evident Big Jon could really belt it out. I had a good seat and was well set up to capture his second number, “Providence:”
It was a well written song, but lyrically and rhythmically and Big Jon sang it with passion. At the start of the song he stated “It may be cheesy that I named a song after where I live, but at least I waited 33 years to do it.” Jon’s 33 years were evident in the depth of his lyrics and performance. Jon thanked his friend Lori for coming and chose what I believe to be a Notorious B.I.G. song next “Best Get Paid:”
The crowd certainly loved it and hopped in a few times during this good acoustic version. Showcasing his pipes he belted it out vocally and strummed his heart out. Playing a couple of originals next I’d guess the next song was titled “Keep Passin’ Me By,” utilizing his quick strum style to which I was becoming familiar. The fifth song he played, from which I was unable to guess a title, used more of a finger picking, folk style with a great pattern. Playing what I believe to be an original he played “Knew Me When:”
It highlighted his more common style of powerfully poetic lyrics with driving guitar rhythms. Evident he was a seasoned performer and songwriter he had great interactions with the crowd and kept everyone interested. Kris Hansen came to the PA and plugged in as Jon began to mingle through the crowd. He began his set with a song he billed as the first track from his upcoming album, polishing off his cigarette he broke into “My Disclaimer:”
It was a great, poetically whimsical song with upbeat guitar tones and rife with chord changes. Vocally, I found Kris to have a delicate and unique style all his own. He began his next number with a slight finger picking pattern throughout the first verse and played “My Sweet Life:”
Another seemingly feel good song with lovely tones matched with Kris’s style and intonation. As the song wound down with a word of caution, Regina, one of Snookers owners, approached the stage and requested her favorite of Kris’s songs “Gravity:”
This was a great light hearted love song, which turned out to be the opening track from his previous album “Kris Hansen’s Left Hand Band.” Kris beckoned his buddy and partner in crime, Jon, for some backing vocals on the next song from his previous release,“Lord and Intent:”
Normally a lyrically powerful song, Jon’s backing vocals helped echo its point further, playing the cards you’re dealt while longing for more. Both musicians at their stations they conferred for a few and broke into two great cover songs. First, evoking Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash from Nashville Skyline, they played fantastic rendition of “Girl From the North Country,” similar to this version I’ve found on Youtube:
Being a huge fan of Dylan, Cash and Nashville Skyline I was sporting an ear to ear grin and mumbling along with the song, as not to drown out the crowd’s enjoyment of this classic. Having arrived early I had secured a seat in the first row of patio furniture, and had neglected to notice that the entire deck had filled out, elbow to elbow with standing room only. Jeff Siatkowski of Sinister Minstrel had arrived during Big Jon’s set and joined me in the early arrival seats. We had been chatting a bit as I began to look around and notice a few other local musicians attending Drop Out Night. As Kris and Jon started into Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” I asked Jeff to guard my seat with his life as I made my way around saying some hellos on my way to the John. Charging through the crowd I said hey to Marco Leclerc of Gravity Works, and swear I spotted Johnny Lingo of Fungus Amungus, but could have been mistaken.
Into the main hall I ran into Jess and Heather, common fixtures at Gravity Works shows and most live shows around town. Chatting with the chill ladies for a few I quickly began to resort to the international sign of “I gotta pee” with knees together I told the gals I’d catch up with them back outside and finally arrived at my destination. After washing my hands I was remiss to find only a useless hand blow dryer and huffed as I exited the men’s room drying my hands on my own ass. Arriving back on the main floor I found Daniel Chase exiting the live music room, befuddled followed by a bevy of beautiful ladies. Offering his hand I reached first then gave him an elbow, showcasing my dripping hands and muttering something about no paper towels. Apparently Daniel hadn’t been to a Drop Out Night before either, and was relieved to find out it was being held outside, not that he had missed it. Introducing me to his harem we traveled back to the smoker’s deck . Jeff had held up his end of the bargain and my seat was clear for the taking when I returned for a song that had Kris playing guitar and Jon singing “All Depends on Me.” Together they played what I would call a country bluesy number “Used to Love Her” followed by a humorous song, touted as the fist song they had written together “That Bitch is So Fucking Wack.” All night through their interactions and humor it was evident they have been playing together for some time, and work very well together with their own shtick. The night continued on and the temperature began to drop, I decided I should be good and reluctantly head out, I captured the final song before they took a bit of a set break, a cover of Notorious B.I.G’s “Juicy:”
Lending to my unfortunate responsibility I kept to my word and got out of the show before midnight. Much of the night had yet to unfold and it was a blast. Snookers will be opening their new location sometime in August from what I hear, and I for one, hope the have included an out door area to keep the Drop Out Night tradition alive. Keep your eyes peeled for these two songwriters! Kris Hansen will be having a big show July 17th at Firehouse 13 for his CD release party so keep your calendars clear.