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Jimmie Dale Gilmore perseveres in unusual concert

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, July 27, 2005

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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This wasn't Jimmie Dale Gilmore's typical gig for a number of reasons, but through thick and thin, Gilmore persevered for a solid, albeit slightly short evening of music through no fault of his own.

Gilmore, who releases a tribute album to his father's favorite songs in mid-August on Rounder, was playing in an unusual setting for him. No smoky club here - this was the courtyard of the Museum of Fine Arts, a comfortable, pleasant setting except for the humidity hanging in the air.

And the weather most definitely entered into the evening's plans.

Colin Gilmore, son of Jimmie, opened a half-hour late due to rain and is stylistically similar to his father.

But the younger version has a long way to go before approaching his father. He does everything - write, sing, play - well enough, but he doesn't have the song craft or vocal identity that the elder Gilmore possesses. Uptempo songs were Gilmore's strongest suit.

The main attraction soon followed with the skies seeming to cooperate - for awhile anyway.

Gilmore, playing solo acoustic, started with the easy going, spare "Tonight I Think I'm Gonna Go Downtown." His voice remains a key instrument in his repertoire, perhaps an acquired taste for some, but very distinctive and vibrant.

The focus of the show was Gilmore's album, "Come On Back," and he did the songs much justice.

Gilmore's father, who died of ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease in 2000, "shared a love of old country music," he said.

He apparently taught his son well. Gilmore played about four songs from the disc, starting with Lefty Frizzell's big hit, "Saginaw, Michigan."

He went back in time to play "Jimmy Brown the Newsboy," which he learned from a Flatt & Scruggs record, but also was dad's favorite songs courtesy of the Carters.

After a few more songs, including Jim Reeves' "Four Walls," Gilmore seemed spooked when he heard what he thought was a continued pounding of thunder. It had rained intermittently earlier during his set.

But with the thunder, Gilmore decided to take a break.

When the show continued almost 15 minutes later, it was inside in a cafeteria. Not exactly the ideal setting, but that didn't seem to matter to Gilmore.

This was a night more devoted to covers than his own material, meaning that "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry' from Hank Williams, which Gilmore recorded, "I Still Miss Someone" from Johnny Cash and "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down," penned by the late, great Harlan Howard, all made their way into the indoor portion of the show and all delivered quite well.

Gilmore has a likable stage manner with a good sense of humor. Saying he had suffered from not easily being categorized as country or folk, he said "Come On Back" was "definitely not folk."

He also thankfully stayed away from talking too much about politics as he did in a show in the area this past winter. To much applause, Gilmore told the crowd "Not all Texans agree with all Texans," a reference to President Bush.

Gilmore deserves kudos for being so easy going a performer. Others perhaps would have blown off the rest of the evening instead of playing in a cafeteria. But Gilmore apparently takes life in stride and offered no ill words about the setting.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the longest show at just under an hour because of the weather and playing indoors without a mic meant that Gilmore put more strain on his voice.

But give Gilmore full credit for serving up yet another strong concert in an unusual evening.