Dave Rawlings Machine – Going to California

I still honestly believe that Gillian Welch And David Rawlings live at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee is the best musical performance I have ever seen. The two were electric. Between their stage presence and the quality of the musicianship the audience was so captivated you could hear a pin drop. Luckily my addiction got another fix when this video of Dave Rawlings Machine covering the Led Zeppelin classic Going to California landed on my desk.
Let’s start with instrumentation. Now I’m going to be honest for a moment, this should be too many guitars for one performance. Thankfully the musicians brandishing them could not be more focused on an elite mix. For anyone that has tried to “crowd around” a single condenser microphone you know how difficult it can be to self mix your sound. You are basically removing control from a sound engineer with a mixing board and shouldering that burden yourself. Every inch closer to that microphone is critical. In this particular video we get the pleasure of watching five masters of their craft show us how it is done.
Now to the vocals. It is refreshing to see Dave Rawlings pay homage to Robert Plant, while also making the style his own. He does this in a way that (probably) won’t offend die hard Zeppelin fans. I’ve always been interested in the shades of gray between respectful imitation and just flat out copying. Dave Rawlings is a master, this is not new information. Gillian Welch is spot on with her backing vocals (as is the rest of the group). At times they are so subtle you barely notice them.
In summary this is just one more footnote in his (their) illustrious body of work. I eagerly await more. You should too. They don’t have any shows booked at the moment (frown) but stay tuned to their facebook page to be notified when they do.