Gilmore makes crowd happy at House of Blues
House of Blues, Cambridge, Mass., June 19, 1997
By Jeffrey B. Remz
CAMBRIDGE, MA - Jimmie Dale Gilmore may be an acquired taste for some, but based on his performance Thursday, people were more than happy to eat it up.
And deservedly so as the Texan consistently hit the mark in mining straight ahead country, rockabilly and blues during a 65-minute second set.
Gilmore's last disc was more an atmospheric effort, not all that country oriented, especially compared to probably his best disc, "Spinning Around the Sun."
Gilmore, 52, played songs from varying parts of his career. Time and again, he and his crack three-piece backing band were simply outstanding, never letting up. Gilmore slightly reworked many of the songs, making them more interesting for the listener. "Just a Wave," one of the best songs of the set, started off a bit differently, and Gilmore took some acoustic guitar leadds, while the bass maintained a nice country beat.
He followed that up with "I was the One" with its 1950's beat that made you think it was sock hop time.
And then he turned "Dallas" into more of a bluesy tune.
If you're getting the idea GIlmore mixed it up, well, you're right.
The vocals are what makes or breaks Gilmore. They can sound thin, but they pack an emotional wallop. He sings with such emotion without over-emoting. That is particularly true on his slow version of Hank Williams's "I'm So Lonesome I Could Try." Songs just don't get much sadder than that.
He can be lyrically elliptical ("Where You Going?"), but there is such vocal prowess and sensitivity, he makes the songs feel more immediate than they may appear.
Gilmore would go stretches without talking, but that was fine snce his musically did do the talking.
And when he did talk, he clearly seemed to be enjoying himself, joking around. He said he turned the Ian & Sylvia song "Darcy Farrow" into a "Celtic war song." He was right.
Gilmore was aided time and again by his able backing band of guitarist Rob Gjersoe, bassist Brad Fordham and drummer Rob Hooper. Gjersoe was particularly on target whether twangy, steely, soft, rockabilly or rocking. Hooper set a steady beat throughout as well.
This was a far stronger performance than Gilmore's show in town during the winter. The singing was top notch. The band played well. An outstanding outing.
Ana Egge, only 20 and now based in Austin, sang five songs in between an opening set by Gilmore and his full set. She has a strong indy release out, "River Under the Road." Somewhat reminiscent of Gillian Welch, the few songs heard indicated she is a talent to definitely keep an eye on.