Thursday, September 21, 2006

'What I Am, You Made Me'

On stage at 3rd and Lindsley, in a tiny black dress worthy of the U.S. Open, Amy LaVere thumped a stand-up bass on a spirited set that included two songs from perhaps the most unlikely songwriter to be covered this week -- Leonard Cohen -- including his "Tower of Song."

But maybe it wasn't so unusual. I heard Jeff Buckley's cover of "hallelujah" sometime this week, too, during a recorded music set change.

The Memphis-based LaVere coupled a youngish voice with some fire, grit and swing.

Best Cohen lyric covered tonight: "I asked Hank Williams how lonely does it get/Well, Hank Williams, he ain't answered me yet."

She also did "Day Like Any," about a Tennessee storm, and "That Beat," by Memphis soul singer Carla Thomas.

Best of the rest

In the interest of time and space, I need to telescope a few random thoughts about the rest of the evening.

• Canadian-based The Duhks returned with their popular Celtic fusion sound. This really proves that Americana is a huge tent.
• Former Stray Cat Lee Rocker exceeded my expectations with a rockabilly set worthy of Jerry Lee Lewis. He did revamped versions of "Stray Cat Strut" and "Rock This Town," but another highlight was "Miracle in Memphis."
Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch and Fats Kaplan, a sort of Americana Montreux, quietly mesmerized with virtuoso instrumentation and an almost-tangible connection with the audience. Their CD, Lost John Dean, has been a huge hit on the Americana charts. And the addition of Kaplan to the previous duo has added some spice to an already-terrific sound.
• The highly anticipated James McMurty (James by gawd McMurtry, as he was introduced) rocked into the early morning for the die-hards. By 1:20, though, my body shut down. Had to cab. No time to wait for the shuttle. Maybe the best $5 I ever spent.

- MichaelK, TBPAC

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