Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rosanne Cash in Charlotte

Sue and I went to see, and hear, Rosanne Cash last night in Charlotte. This performance was not part of a tour, she was in Asheville to speak at a Women's Conference and has never played Charlotte before. She was very well received, and a bit surprised at the warm reception. I have been a fan since 1981, and her work has never failed to leave me inspired, and also somewhat introspective. This is not just Johnny Cash's daughter; Rosanne Cash is an artist in her own right. Since having hit the charts with "Seven Year Ache" in 1981, Ms. Cash has had quite a career, inspiring her listeners with such gems as the album "Kings Record Shop", as well as 2009's release of "The List", which was inspired by her father’s making a list of the most important 100 songs in American music.

The video of "Seven Year Ache", above, is taken from her appearance, along with Lacey J. Dalton, Emmylou Harris, Gail Davies, and Pam Rose for a PBS broadcast in 1986. Below is a recent performance of the same song at Harro East in Rochester, N.Y. on September 16th of this year. That's Ms. Cash's husband John Leventhal on guitar, just as he was last night for the entire performance, helping to turn every song into a new experience, and playing a very varied playlist of songs from her past few albums, "Black Cadillac" and "The List".

Opening for Ms. Cash was the bluegrass duo from Chapel Hill, "Mandolin Orange", composed of singer-songwriter Andrew Marlin, and violinist/vocalist/guitarist Emily Frantz. They were a tremendous surprise, with Mr. Marlin pulling forth vocals that even had Ms. Cash amazed.

When they were through, Ms. Cash took the stage and promptly got right down to business, regaling the audience with all of their favorites, such as the 1985 Grammy winning "I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me", "My Baby Thinks He's A Train", and of course "Seven Year Ache". With 11 # 1 singles to her credit as well as 21 Top 40 hits and 2 Gold Records, she is well established as an entertainer.

Accompanied throughout by her husband, John Leventhal, she proved, once again last night, that she still has the grace and charm to beguile an audience. Of course she did "Tennessee Flat Top Box", one of her father's signature songs, to the delight of all the fans in attendance. With some special treatment on the guitar by Mr. Levanthal, that song was one of the many highlights of the evening’s performance.

Another show stopper was Ms. Cash and Mr. Leventhal's treatment of Bobby Gentry's 1967 hit recording "Ode to Billie Joe", which they turned into something hot and sultry, while still retaining the integrity of the original recording. "Motherless Children" and "I'm Moving On" were both equally surprising in their presentations.

The entire show lasted several hours or so. For an encore Ms. Cash returned to the stage and did "Girl From the North Country", referencing her Dad's version from his iconic album, "Nashville Skyline". Nobody left disappointed. With her wry sense of humor, and crystal clear voice containing all of the strength of her father, while still conveying her own unique style; how could they?

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