Amy Rigby / Jim Lauderdale – Southgate House (Newport, KY)
Alternative-country artists visit the Cincinnati area all too rarely, so it was a real treat to catch a double bill featuring these two talented songwriters, who have turned out heartfelt and original country gems that shine without the need of Nashville’s glare.
Amy Rigby opened the show with her folksy brand of familiar and comfortable songs dealing with familiar, everyday occurrences and situations that cause listeners to say, “Yep, been there, done that”. Rigby’s day job as a temporary office worker provided the grist for many of the songs. She confided to the crowd that the day before her tour started, the temp agency called to tell her they had work waiting for her.
As she played songs about love from afar, infidelity and just getting by the best way folks know how, she clearly seemed to be glad to be on tour and away from the 9-to-5 world. Backed by a trio, Rigby played a strong, tight show that focused on songs from her latest album, Diary of a Mod Housewife, notably “Beer and Kisses” and “20 Questions”. Playing with energy and passion, Rigby provided ample reason to believe her days at the temp agency might just be memories and songwriting fodder for future albums.
Following Rigby was Jim Lauderdale, whose songs also rang of familiarity, but one of sound as well as situation. His music paced and stomped from the mud of Delta blues to the sweat of Memphis soul to the grit of Chicago to big-city pop of Detroit and New York. Holding this stew together was a basic yet fresh country foundation and Lauderdale’s fascinating lyrics.
Clearly having a good time on the stage, Lauderdale seemed determined to make sure the audience was not missing out on his fun. The set rolled from easygoing ballads such as “Pretty Close to the Truth” to the bopping enthusiasm of songs like “This is the Big Time”, while highlighting songs from his new album Persimmons. Lauderdale’s voice was clear and strong, and his passion to belt the notes and harmonies was evident throughout the night. His four-man band, including Gurf Morlix on pedal steel, was solid throughout the show.
All night long, Lauderdale’s aim was to please. When a member of the audience requested a song the band had not practiced, Lauderdale returned during his second encore to perform the song solo in an impromptu acoustic set. Closing with “When the Devil Starts Crying”, Jim Lauderdale left the Southgate audience satisfied and glowing from a night filled with the best offering of alternative-country to come through these parts in quite a