Monday, June 16, 2008

Mary Gauthier

Mary Gauthier
Stephen Talkhouse, June 15th '08

Before NoFoSound, there was 'CAKE' and occasionally all the songs played for a week would be devoted to one particular subject. 'Animals' was a good one, for instance, as was 'Drinking'. In researching the latter, I found a song called "I Drink" by Mary Gauthier (pron. "Go-shay") on a 'burn' of a Bob Dylan "Theme Time Radio Hour" that my good friend, the Loobster had made me and its stark, confessional beauty brought to mind Gillian Welch at her very best. After downloading Mary's "Drag Queens in Limousines" and finding on it a whole mess of dark, stunning tunes, I was pleased to see her listed in Amagansett Sunday night while on her way back home to Nashville after promoting her new album "Between Daylight And Dark" at stops in NY, MA and CT. She's been making music and performing for 10 years and, thanks to Jimmy Buffett, who covered her "Wheel Inside The Wheel" on his last album, she can now do it in a much fancier car. Her songs, which she describes as "miserable country", often feature characters who live hard, difficult lives but her gifts for telling a story often make these folk sound heroic, almost enviable. "Last Of The Hobo Kings" from the new one was inspired by a NY Times obituary for "Steam Train" Maury Graham and while she sang it, I realized one reason I like Mary so much is because she reminds me of Mickey Newbury, another plaintive storyteller whose voice and songs rip your insides out. I've never seen an audience at the Stephen Talkhouse be so quiet, so attentive and, as she strummed her last note, the whole place rose to show Mary its gratitude and appreciation. This was a performance that stood out and I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more from Ms. Gauthier before too long. The folks in charge could have stuck another crappy tribute band on and probably filled the place, but even though the night was far from being 'sold out', the talent bookers there deserve 'props'. They're doing a fine job and Rickie Lee Jones, Shelby Lynne, Beth Orton, Eeek-A-Mouse and Robyn Hitchcock are all stopping by over the next few weeks, so things are definitely looking up...


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