Those who had the good fortune to stumble upon the Highway Poets during their five-day residency at the Sonoma County Fair would have noticed a few things: first, the band members' clip-on beer holders on each microphone stand; second, the vintage suitcase full of copies of the band's new CD, Stay 'til Dawn, with a 1903 photo of the Hill Opera House—now the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma—on the cover.
But those who brought that CD home and popped it in would have heard a much more mellowed version of the full-steam thundering juggernaut that plowed through the din of roller coasters and carnival barkers.
Where was the rock? The answer lies in the group's roots as Hillside Fire, a rock band that recently changed its name and went more acoustic, hence the folksy nature of Stay 'til Dawn. But lately, the Highway Poets have been wooing their electric guitars again, and have incorporated their Crazy Horse–style jams in with their bluegrass setlists. Whatever facet they choose to play, they'll do so expertly on Friday, Aug. 10, at the Last Day Saloon, with the Crux, Frankie Boots, Girls & Boys and E Minor and the Dirty Diamonds. 115 Fifth St., Santa Rosa. 7:30pm. $10. 707.545.2343.—Gabe Meline