Songwriter and now author Rodney Crowell is on tour, packing a fistful of great songs and a book-full of great stories. The Chinaberry Sidewalks tour made a stop at the Kent stage in Kent Ohio on March 5 before taking off for Canada and the East Coast. This intimate, solo performance draws from Rodney’s repertoire of soulful, perfectly crafted songs and excerpts from Chinaberry Sidewalks, his critically acclaimed memoir which paints brilliant pictures of a childhood fraught with family turbulence, poverty, forgiveness and love. I read half of it the first day I bought it.
In case you need to be reminded, Crowell entered the country music scene as part of the Emmylou Harris “Hot” Band and went on to create some of the most memorable songs and hits in Country music. “I Ain’t Living Long Like This,” “Shame On The Moon,” ” ‘Til I Gain Control Again,” and “I Couldn’t Leave You If I Tried” are just a short sample of the dozens of songs that cement Rodney Crowell’s name on the first page of any best of Americana songwriters list.
He had a couple of guitars with him on stage that night, but the sweet vintage Gibson L 00 was all he needed to deliver knock-out performances of songs like “The Rise And Fall Of Intelligent Design”, “A Moving Work Of Art,” “Beautiful Despair”, and an emotional encore including “I Wish It Would Rain”, and “Wandering Boy” from his 2001 masterpiece recording, The Houston Kid. Every once in a while he would saunter over and pick up his dog-eared copy of Chinaberry sidewalks and mesmerize the audience with tales of how his mother met his father defending her honor at a Roy Acuff concert in 1942, how his father took a two-year-old Rodney to see Hank Williams in the second to last performance of his short career, and a hilarious yet frightening tale of how the prayer witches of East Houston tried to exorcise the devil out of his seizure-prone mother.
There is a pretty good chance that the 2011 Chinaberry Sidewalks tour is coming your way. Rodney’s heading to Canada, then the East Coast , then sweeping through the South before ending up in California. I highly recommend you be there when Rodney Crowell catches these songs and stories and sets them free.