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>> AFTER A YEAR OF SOLO PROJECTS, DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS PULL IN TO WASHINGTON FOR THREE-NIGHT GIG
Drive-By Truckers plays a three-night gig at 9:30 Club

 The Drive-By Truckers are closing out the new year with the help of three opening acts.
Andy Tennille
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Date published: 12/27/2012

BY ANDREW LEAHEY

FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR

Patterson Hood spent most of the fall in a van, sandwiched among guitar cases, luggage and musicians. It was his longest solo tour in years, a chance to take a break from the rock 'n' roll circus he'd built with his band, the Drive-By Truckers, and explore something different.

The venues were cozy, midsize places. The performances were scaled-down, filled with strummed acoustic guitar and swirling keyboards. Although he performed most of the shows with a full band, Hood shook up his usual lineup, asking a cello player to cover the bass parts and roping in the members of his opening act, Hope For Agoldensummer, to sing harmonies.

"It was one of the best bands I've ever heard in my life," he said last week, several days after the tour wrapped up with a pair of Nashville performances. "I did enjoy playing the smaller, more-intimate venues, and playing music that wasn't so big and loud much of the time. I'm able to really be a better singer when I can hear myself and not have to sing over the big sound."

"That said," he added, "I also enjoy being part of the big Drive-By Truckers sound and playing those big, cool rooms, so a balance is kind of ideal."

The balance will be restored this weekend at the 9:30 Club, where the Drive-By Truckers have scheduled a three-night New Year's bash Dec. 29-31.

The D.C. residency will be their final project of 2012, of course, not to mention the Truckers' first string of shows in several months. The opening acts, which change every night, include Deer Tick and the North Mississippi Allstars Duo.

Hood isn't the only Trucker who's been blazing his own path this year. Mike Cooley released a live album, "The Fool on Every Corner," culled from three solo shows in the Drive-By Truckers' home state of Georgia. Like Hood's tour, Cooley's shows were stripped-down gigs, featuring little more than vocals and fingerpicked guitar chords.


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What: Drive-By Truckers When: Dec. 30-31 (Dec. 29 is sold out) Where: 9:30 Club, 815 V St. N.W., Washington, D.C. Cost: Dec. 30, $35. Dec. 31, $55; complimentary champagne toast at midnight Info: 930.com