Thursday, March 30, 2017

Rodney Crowell at City Winery

(l-r) Steuart Smith, Rodney Crowell, John Paul White, Roseanne Cash
Rodney Crowell was born into a musical family in Crosby, Texas. One grandfather led a church choir, the other grandfather was a bluegrass banjo player, his grandmother played guitar, and his father sang semi-professionally at bars and honky tonks. At age 11, Crowell began playing drums in his father's band. In his teen years, Crowell played pop hits and country standards in garage rock bands in Houston. Searching for a musical career in 1972, Crowell moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he found work as a country music songwriter. After a few hits, Crowell played guitar and sang for three years with Emmylou Harris & the Hot Band before resuming his blossoming solo career. His honors include two Grammy awards, an ASCAP lifetime achievement award, and induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and Music City Walk of Fame. Crowell has released 20 solo albums, his most recent being Close Ties, with a release date of March 31, 2017.

Headlining tonight at City Winery, Crowell performed several of his better known songs, but also showcased his new album. His own vocals were unremarkable, so early into the show his focus was on the content of the songs than on his vocal delivery. Crowell poetically arranged clever words and phrases to form bouquets that dug into rich sensibilities while his two musicians provided the country twang. Towards the end of the concert, the energy shifted into high gear as Crowell introduced several guest, starting with John Paul White, formerly of the Civil Wars, who sang "The Once and Future Queen" solo and also joined Crowell on other songs. The second guest, was Crowell's ex-wife, Roseanne Cash, who now lives in New York. Crowell, White and Cash alternated leads and sang harmony on "It Ain't Over Yet", "Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight" and other songs. Lastly, Crowell invited on stage his frequent collaborator, guitarist Steuart Smith. These various collaborations made this Rodney Crowell concert especially memorable.

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