Upcoming Concert Reviews of Will Kimbrough, Mary Gauthier and More...

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Will Kimbrough



Will Kimbrough with The Hiders

Saturday · Southgate House

No matter what kind of music you prefer, chances are you've heard Will Kimbrough in some fashion at some point in time. He's produced Todd Snider and Kate Campbell, sessioned with Jimmy Buffett, Rodney Crowell, Josh Rouse, Billy Joe Shaver and Amy Rigby, been covered by Buffett, Little Feat and Jack Ingram, toured with Buffett, Snider, Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely and Guy Clark, and somehow worked in time for his own bands (Will & the Bushmen, Bis-Quits, Daddy) and solo work. Part of Kimbrough's appeal as a go-to session guy/touring sideman is his phenomenal guitar ability, which manages to complement whomever he accompanies (and which earned him the 2004 Instrumentalist of the Year Award from the Americana Music Association).

But perhaps even more important to Kimbrough's success is his amazing facility for songwriting. Over the course of two studio albums (This, Home Away) and a collection of B-sides and rarities (Godsend), Kimbrough has shown his incredible gift for rootsy Pop melodicism and insightful lyrics that run the gamut from the intimacy of love to the broader concerns of modern life. It is the latter of these that forms the basis for Kimbrough's latest album, Americanitis, a Roots/Rock political broadside that critically examines life in post-9/11 America. Kimbrough had been writing scathing political songs throughout the first Bush term, but the results of the 2004 election provided even more fuel to Kimbrough's creative fire, inspiring him to collect 17 of the best of them on Americanitis.

Throughout the album, Kimbrough offers his opinions on corporate malfeasance ("I Lie"), the political blunders that have resulted in wars on two fronts and the aftermath ("Warring Ways," "Perfect Desert Blue"), the sad culture of looking the other way ("Act Like Nothing's Wrong"), and sometimes all of the above at once ("Pride," the title track). There's a great moment in "Pride" where Kimbrough's spoken-word commentary turns toward the hypocrisy and arrogance of the Christian right's bumper-sticker-scripture mentality and conservative, knee-jerk patriotism with this incisive observation: "I'm not bashing Jesus, but how about we read what Jesus said for once/I say for balance we take in a little Buddha, and Johnny Cash/We have lots of work to do, sisters and brothers/And pride will only set us back." Amen, Will Kimbrough.

Keep on telling it. (Brian Baker)

Mary Gauthier with Over the Rhine

Saturday · Taft Theatre

Mary Gauthier's life journey to this point would require very little embellishment to make for a compelling book or film. Adopted at the age of 1, Gauthier (pronunciation guide: "Go-Shay") spiraled into a cycle of substance abuse, homelessness and jail as a runaway teenager when her parents' marriage dissolved. After rehab, she enrolled at LSU but a relapse ended her college career in her senior year, resulting in a move to Boston and a long string of wage slave jobs. A cafe waitressing gig led to a management promotion and the chance to enter a renowned culinary school, all accomplished while Gauthier was still in the grips of addiction.

She ultimately founded the acclaimed Boston restaurant Dixie Kitchen, but its demands and success were confining and unsatisfying. After more than two decades of substance-abuse issues, Gauthier got and stayed clean and, at the uncharacteristic age of 35, found she had both a talent and desire for songwriting.

Her debut CD, 1997's Dixie Kitchen, earned her a Best New Folk Artist nomination from the Boston Music Awards and led her to sell her share of her restaurant to fund her next album, Drag Queens in Limousines, which led to an Independent Music Award for Country Artist of the Year by the Gay & Lesbian American Music Awards. Two years of Folk circuit touring set the stage for Gauthier's third and most lauded album, 2002's Filth & Fire, which landed her a deal with Lost Highway Records, resulting in her fourth and most accomplished album to date, the sparse and moving Mercy Now.

Much has happened for Gauthier since Mercy Now came out in February of 2005, including a triumphant appearance on the Lost Highway showcase at 2005's South by Southwest, a win for Emerging Artist of the Year at the Americana Music Association awards last year and Jimmy Buffett's inclusion of her evocative "Wheel Within a Wheel" on his recent Country album, Take the Weather with You. Although Gauthier is still in the thick of touring Mercy Now, new songs are always a possibility in her sets as she's constantly writing and trying out new material. One thing is certain; time tested or brand new, Gauthier's songs will move you on an elemental level. (BB)

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