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The Murray State News

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Boxes are located in Waterfield Library, the Curris Center, residential colleges and the Alumni Center.
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The Read the Dream Book Drive aims to bring books featuring diverse authors and characters to students in Clarksville and Mayfield. Murray...

Students learn more about HB9 and SB6.
Rally addresses DEI concerns, Jackson's statement
Gray Hawkins and Madison Miller February 29, 2024

Murray State’s Alliance organization, the College Democrats and other students gathered today to rally against the progressing state legislation...

Boxes are located in Waterfield Library, the Curris Center, residential colleges and the Alumni Center.
Murray State RCA leads book drive across campus
Ania Boutin, Chief Videographer • February 29, 2024

The Read the Dream Book Drive aims to bring books featuring diverse authors and characters to students in Clarksville and Mayfield. Murray...

The News Reviews: Jim Lauderdale Live

Photo+from+11+Year+Itch+on+Facebook.+Jim+Lauderdale+performed+live+in+Paducah+on+Nov.+17.+
Photo from 11 Year Itch on Facebook. Jim Lauderdale performed live in Paducah on Nov. 17.

Jim Lauderdale, a pioneer of the Americana genre, made his Paducah debut at Barrel & Bond on Nov. 17.

The show opened with local artist Jeremy Marshall, accompanied by Matt Riley on electric guitar and Josh Coffey of the Wheelhouse Rousters on fiddle. The trio set the tone for the night with a nice half-hour of alt-country.

Lauderdale performed a two-hour, 22-song set that showcased the span of his career, both in terms of time and genre. It was a solo acoustic show, which made Lauderdale’s forays into bluegrass and rock all the more impressive.

Lauderdale, who began his career in bluegrass, made sure the genre was well-represented throughout the night for a Kentucky show. This included four songs from his latest album “The Long and Lonesome Letting Go,” as well as past collaborations with legend of the genre Ralph Stanley and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter.

While I’m more familiar with the country and rock sides of his career, this performance inspired me to give more attention to his bluegrass. His voice is particularly suited to the genre, most noticeably on the opening of a cappella section of “Like Him”, sung by Stanley on the album version. Playing a genre so heavily associated with full bands and mixed instrumentation with nothing but an acoustic guitar is no small undertaking, and Lauderdale more than delivered.

I’m particularly fond of Lauderdale’s prolific songwriting relationship with Hunter, so “Iodine” and “Deep Well of Sadness” were highlights for me. I also really enjoyed “Ghost of a Rose” and “Darkness is the Other Side of Life” from the latest album.

Photo from Jim Lauderdale’s Facebook. Lauderdale performing with a guitar.

Moving on to the countryside of the show, Lauderdale performed some of his songs that were radio hits for other artists: “The King of Broken Hearts” (George Strait), “Halfway Down” (Patty Loveless) and “You Don’t Seem to Miss Me” (Loveless and George Jones). It was great to hear these songs in the songwriter’s interpretation, especially the latter two, which Lauderdale has not released on any of his own albums.

The pinnacle of the performance for me was “Patchwork River,” a song Lauderdale graciously played for me during the ‘requests’ portion of the concert. It’s a country-rock collaboration with Hunter which in recent weeks has become not only my favorite Lauderdale song but one of my favorite songs period. Hunter’s mythic, poetic lyrics are as strong as most anything he wrote for the Grateful Dead, and Lauderdale elevates them with a brilliant melody and perfect delivery. 

Lauderdale has an uncanny ability to create consistently good songs at a rapid rate, hence his 30+ albums, which makes it hard to pick high points when there aren’t really lows. Some of my other favorites of the night were “She Used to Say That to Me,” also recorded by Strait, and “The Opportunity to Help Somebody Through It.”

In addition to his music, Lauderdale’s deadpan, offbeat humor added to the experience. This included struggling against an expensive capo bought in India that kept trying to turn his guitar into a sitar, a prolonged bit involving a pimento cheese sandwich and an impressively detailed backstory about why he can no longer perform my song request, before playing it ‘one last time.’

Lauderdale is a showman in every sense of the word. From his wardrobe of always impeccable bespoke western shirts and Manuel suits to his powerful, twangy voice, he is everything you could want out of a country star. Armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar and the occasional vocal imitation of a pedal steel guitar or a Telecaster, he put forth a masterclass of American roots music.

The other star of the night was the venue, the lounge area of Paducah’s Barrel & Bond bourbon bar. The space has only recently begun to be used as a concert venue and I believe this show proved the concept. Being able to watch an artist of Lauderdale’s caliber from five feet away on a couch was a special experience, and I see a lot of potential for such an intimate concert environment. Hopefully they continue to work with local bookers like Landee W. Bryant, founder of 11 Year Itch Music Promotion and organizer of this event, to bring more great music to Paducah.

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Ben Overby, Staff Writer

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