Charlie Louvin: Live at Shake It Records

[Tompkins Square Records]

Dec 5, 2007 at 2:06 pm

Country icon Charlie Louvin's in-store performance at Cincinnati's Shake It Records back in May wasn't tied to a show later that night in the area. It was merely just a guerilla stop to promote his new eponymous album.

Louvin was on his way to Nashville for an appearance at the Grand Ole Opry when he dropped by the Northside music store to entertain a rapt audience of 100 or so with songs from the Louvin Brothers' hallowed catalog (revered by none other than Gram Parsons, who introduced the brothers to a young Emmylou Harris), a few of his solo tunes (recorded after brother Ira's tragic car accident in 1965) and a couple of welcome wild cards. The show, recorded on an initially recalcitrant laptop, now enters the Louvin pantheon as the album Live at Shake It Records, a wonderful document of a rare occasion.

Louvin was just weeks away from his 80th birthday when he cranked up this energetic set. His voice might be creaky from seven-odd decades of work but he can still stir souls, break hearts and raise neck hairs during parts of "The Christian Life," "You're Running Wild" and "See the Big Man Cry." Louvin's crack band — particularly guitarist extraordinaire Bill Kelly — gave the great man a hell of a Country road to ramble down, which he did for 45 astonishing minutes, singing songs, telling stories and dropping jaws along the way.

Less of an actual concert and more of a warts-and-all front-porch get together, Live at Shake It Records is another amazing chapter in Charlie Louvin's big Country book of doing it all and having a ball. Grade: A