Sunday, November 22, 2009

20 Days in November - Day 17: Robbie Fulks

One of the pioneers of the anti-contemporary Nashville pop sound - that attempts not to offend anyone - has been Robbie Fulks - who instead writes songs that are witty, sometimes offensive, but always thought provoking. You won't hear songs like "Let's Kill Saturday Night" or "I Told Her Lies" or "She Took A Lot of Pills [and Died]" on your average country radio station. And probably not "F**k this Town." - his tribute to Nashville executives. Fulks is based out of Chicago, where he was a member of that city's most popular bluegrass band, Special Consensus, and has taught at the Old Town School of Folk Music for over 12 years. And on the old XM Radio I used to be able to listen to him host various at this establishment such as Tift Merritt and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Can't find it now after the merger.

And when touring through the D.C. area, Fulks has made Jammin' Java a regular stop - and even better - scheduled an early show for us old folks. Robbie Gjersoe - who we saw leading the
The Flatlanders band was appearing with him, which gave us, not only a more personal look at this artist, but also his mastery of acoustic guitars. This guy can play. As for Fulks, he's not too shabby himself - particularly when he played one of my favorite songs of the evening, "We Live a Long Time to Get Old". This song was originally written by Jimmy Murphy in the 1930's and Fulks performed it using Murphy's unique style of playing. This is also another entertaining aspect of Robbie Folks, he is a music historian - and likes to promote music from the forgotten and\or "anti-heroes" of country music.

I first heard of Fulks through his popular songs listed previously: "Let's Kill Saturday Night" or "I Told Her Lies" or "She Took A Lot of Pills [and Died]". And this evening, we were fortunate to hear these songs. But before that, he played several new songs, and besides the "Worse Song Ever Written", there were some gems. "In Bristol Town One Bright Day" reminded me of the local performers who perform at that town's Rhythm & Roots Reunion. And "Waitin' On These New Things to Go" is a clever song of a country boy letting technology pass him by. I particularly like the line, which I'm paraphrasing, "I don't have to worry about getting mail from strangers". Amongst these news songs, he also performed older material such as "Rock Bottom, Population 1", "Goodbye Virginia", and "Cigarette State".

Since this how ended by 8:30, I headed to JV's Restaurant to hear a set from local artists Little Red & the Renegades and their new Orleans inspired zydeco, blues, and funk. And this evening the and was joined by Alan MacEwen - better known for his work with The Grandsons. I arrived to hear the first of two Professor Longhair songs "Tipitina" & "Big Chief" - followed by another hour plus of zydeco, Texas swing, and a waltz. This is one entertaining assortment of players with Little Red alternating between the piano and accordion.

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