Wednesday, August 02, 2000

Crowd, Walker combine for good show

By Chris Varias
Enquirer contributor

        A Jerry Jeff Walker concert is usually an interactive affair, where fans drink hard, sing along, and even add a few lines to the proceedings in a Rocky Horror Picture Show sort of way.

        Until Mr. Walker's show Monday night at the Southgate House in Newport, the Texas singer-songwriter hadn't played the Cincinnati area in more than 15 years, which could have made for a crowd unfamiliar with the boozy protocol of the performance.

        Not so. The sold-out crowd drank (tequila drinks were discounted in the singer's honor), sang along, and nailed their lines as if Mr. Walker's 15-plus years away were 15 days.

        As for Mr. Walker, he and his three-piece Gonzo Compadres band — kudos to John Inmon and his honky-tonk guitar — put on an hour-and-40-minute show representative of Mr. Walker's career.

        It was a set relaxed and rowdy in turns. There were songs from his pen that others made famous, like a soft and bittersweet “Mr. Bojangles.”

        There were songs he made famous, written by others, like the rowdy “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother,” the evening's top Rocky Horror Picture Show-type moment. “So well, so well, so well,” the crowd sang between lines in the chorus, drawing a smile from the star.

        “Trashy Women” was more rowdiness, as was the set-closing “Good Hearted Woman,” which had patrons swapping their seats for dancing room between tables.

        Two more highlights were tunes written by Mr. Walker's Texas buddy, Guy Clark: “L.A. Freeway” and “Desperados Waiting for the Train.”

        Another mark of a Jerry Jeff show is his storytelling. He wasn't in full raconteur mode, but he did share with the crowd that he'd hitch-hiked through town in 1965 or '66, an experience which contributed to his writing of “Stoney.” About half the crowd caught and cheered his reference to Norwood in the tune.

        He also told how on this tour he has been sharing space on the bus with his college-age son Django. Django joined dad and band on stage to sing backup on a couple of songs. He also sang lead on a song he wrote himself, a cliche-riddled homesick ode to Texas that sounded like something Kenny Rogers' child would write.


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