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Prine blazes his own trail

Club Passim, Cambridge, Mass., June 26, 2024

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Fame can be a blessing or a curse – especially when you're the son of a famous one. That's what Tommy Prine – son of the late great songwriter and singer John Prine – lives with. The name accounted for a large crowd for him at Newport Folk Festival last year playing on a side stage and at least some curiosity tonight.

While there are some resemblances between the two especially in the area of songs about people, the younger Prine, of course, must ultimately blaze his own trail.

Fortunately, there was much to like once again about Prine. He has penned quality material that ranged from more singer/songwriter type songs to roots rockers.

He also had a sense of humor in song (wonder where he got that from?) such as on "Purple Paint," a song about painting a fence at his home and his wife.

Prine also could be very serious as well with three songs mentioning his father and the loss he has felt. The well-done encore song, "Ships in the Harbor," captured the sense of loss with the closing lines:
"When I'm by peaceful waters, it's harder and harder
I'd do anything just to talk to my father
But I guess he was leaving soon as we do
And yeah, I guess he was passing through, and I am too

One of the most effective songs of the night was the wrenching "Letter to My Brother," about those dealing with abuse issues (Prine had drug issues himself and lost several friends to overdoses).

There's something to be said about real life feelings and emotions and putting it all out there.

Prine is not a finished product. After all, at 28, he's only released one album, "The Far South" (a deluxe version came out last Friday) and has been through a lot.

Prine was a bit too laid back at times. He can sing, but sometimes he should have been more animated.

When the band left the stage, leaving Prine armed with only an acoustic guitar and a supportive crowd, he came into his own. Prine just seemed more engaged and connected.

He also probably could refine his stories some to make them resonate more.

Still, there's a lot to like about Prine. His father may have been a starting point, but he knows he must do it on his own, and Prine showed that he is more than capable.

Wayne Graham, a long-running act from North Carolina, opened the night with an ultra-short (26 minutes!) set. There is no Wayne or Graham in the quartet, who have been around since 2010. Instead, the band was the creation of brothers Kenny (guitar/vocals) and Hayden Miles (drums/vocals) with a guitarist and bassist aboard. They have released eight albums with a new one out in September on Tyler Childers' label.

The group did well with their roots-oriented rock sound and an easy-going stage presence. This was part of their first foray to the Northeast and deserve to be heard. Hopefully, for a lot longer next time around.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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