Jimmie Dale Gilmore – Egan Center (Anchorage, AK)
When Jimmie Dale Gilmore traveled north for this show, his purpose was to “see Alaska” and support the Alaska Federation of Natives voter-registration drive. Gilmore and his four-member band of gifted musicians did more than just “rock the vote,” they rocked the house.
After a splendid, exotic start by local performers, Gilmore certainly wasn’t “Headed For a Fall”, despite the title of the opening song of his set. From the start, it would have been easy to compare his plaintive tenor, for which he is known, to the likes of Willie Nelson. Further listening, however, revealed much, much more. Gilmore may have a similar Texas twang to his predecessor, but it was his wry lyrics and his band’s beyond-impressive guitar work that had the audience hooked.
Songs such as “Borderland”, “Dallas” and Butch Hancock’s mournful “Just A Wave”, with its wonderful liquid analogies, proved Gilmore isn’t just “alternative country”, but one of the most interesting acts in popular music, period. His stage presence was simple and unaffected; what also came through was a tender side, from his sweet smile to his obvious gratitude, even at a performance that was done for expenses only.
He let the music do most of his talking, Bassist Brad Fordham and drummer Rob Hooper were a steady rhythm section, but the loudest voices came from Gilmore’s two lead guitarists, Mary Cutrufello and Rob Gjersoe. They provided much of the edge and a lot of sparkle. In fact, Gilmore let Cutrufello shine with her own composition, “Dreamers”, during which she unleashed some of the evening’s most blazing pyrotechnics.
Gilmore’s material ranged in sound between traditional country to rock ‘n’ roll. He played the title track from his newest release, Braver Newer World, along with fare from his six recordings. Townes Van Zandt’s “Buckskin Stallion Blues”, his own “Another Colorado”, and Joe Ely’s “Because Of The Wind” kept the fans’ attention. The latter tune featured Gjersoe’s additional adeptness at steel guitar.
Gilmore’s Texas roots came to the surface on Al Strehli’s “Fly Away”, a thoughtful approach to finding home. And while it may have seemed a stretch for a voice like Gilmore’s to sing the blues, he successfully made the leap on Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “Black Snake Moan”. A sizzling rocker, “Outside The Lines”, brought things to a close after an hour of nonstop music that earned Gilmore a standing ovation from the appreciative crowd.