Guy Clark at the Belcourt (Nashville, TN), 9-23-09

The occasion for this sold-out performance to about 500 folks at Nashville's Belcourt Theatre was this week's release on Dualtone Records of Guy Clark's latest disc, Somedays You Write The Song, and the structure of the show suggested Guy is particularly proud of this one. Flanked on his left by fellow songwriters and ace accompanists Verlon Thompson and Shawn Camp, and on his right by the much-more-than-merely-accomplished rhythm section of percussionist Kenny Malone and upright bassist Bryn Davies, Clark proceeded to play the new album in sequence, from start to finish -- as if to emphasize that fresh creative pursuits are still very much a priority for this living legend on edge of seventy.

The disc consists of originals written with a fair cast of co-conspirators, ranging from Camp and Thompson to Patrick Davis to Jedd Hughes & Ashley Monroe to Gary Nicholson & Jon Randall to Joe Leathers to Rodney Crowell. Many of them were in attendance, and he gave them their just acknowledgments when their songs came around. Introducing the one cover on the album, Townes Van Zandt's "If I Needed You", Clark lamented that "Townes couldn't be here tonight" ... and yet when Guy plays, Townes is pretty much always there, in the air.

The new material was welcomed by the appreciative audience -- "Hemingway's Whiskey" and the Crowell co-write "Eamon" seemed to stand out in particular -- but while Clark is determined to keep writing, he understands the weight of his own history as well. And yet, before hitting some career highlights in his second set, he made a point of passing the torch to his compadres. Thus we were gifted with Camp's rendition of "Sis Draper" (a co-write with Clark) and "Magnolia Wind", and Thompson's transcendent tunes "Darwida'sDarwettia's Mandolin" and "Jo Walker's Mare". At the end of which Clark deadpanned, "Well, now you can see what I'm up against."

Of course you can afford to be so humble when you follow those gems with the likes of "The Cape" and "L.A. Freeway" and "Homegrown Tomatoes" and "Parking Lot" and "The Randall Knife" and "Desperadoes Waiting For A Train" and "Boats To Build" and "Dublin Blues". If Camp and Thompson have emerged as sterling songwriters in their own right, it's partly because of what they were up against, having a mentor of Clark's stature.

An encore call brought forth another Crowell co-write, "Stuff That Works", played especially for Rodney on this night. But it was a line from "The Cape" that stuck with me as the evening drew to a close. "He's still jumpin' off the garage, will be till he's dead," Clark affirmed -- and his first set was precisely a testament to that determination.

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Comment by chris sweeney on September 24, 2009 at 6:49pm
I would have loved to have seen that show. I anxiously await hearing the new CD.

The Verlon Thompson tune I believe is "Darwettia's Mandolin", which I think is his Mothers name.

Thanks for the post about the show!
Comment by Tara Aaron on September 29, 2009 at 8:16am
I was at that show and Peter, the line from "The Cape" that has always stuck with me is the chorus. I want a bumper sticker that says "Spread Your Arms and Hold Your Breath and Always Trust Your Cape." Is that good life advice or what? Anyway, it was an awesome show!
Comment by Jack Wallingford on September 30, 2009 at 4:47am
really enjoyed Guy Clark's last one. looking forward to the new one. sometimes i wish i were closer to nashville. jack w.
Comment by Edd Hurt on October 3, 2009 at 10:06pm
Wish I could've seen the show. For me, the killer song on the new record is the last one, "Maybe I Can Paint Over That." Someone should cover it if they haven't already.
Comment by Marc Pessar on October 4, 2009 at 5:24pm
Peter, thanks very much for the review. Wish I'd been there. I've been fortunate to catch Guy and Verlon in performance on several occasions and have done workshops with both. I feel I have a bit of a special connection to the new album as I took part in the workshop during which "The Guitar " was written. Watching that song take shape was an incredible experience.
It is inspiring to see an artist continuing to do vital work at this point in his life and career. Long May He Roll.
Comment by DeDra Ezell on February 10, 2010 at 5:39am
I really enjoyed that show. I saw Guy for the first time in 1979 at the exit/inn and have seen him many times since. As I watched the show it took me back 30 years of living. Guy came to my hometown in 1994 in Lawrenceburg Tennessee. When I looked around the audience I knew everyone as we grew up like "Desperados waiting for a train" even had a place we called the Green frog Cafe. I did not see any one I knew at the concert it was a blessing to be there.


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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.