Southern Troubadours @ The Southern Theatre 4/3/16
It’s always a special treat to see a talented singer/songwriter in an intimate setting … you can hear and feel the emotion, it’s more real. When there are 3 performers and they happen to be Grammy nominated and BMA award winner Ruthie Foster, Texas born legend Joe Ely and one of the most entertaining performers touring today, Paul Thorn, it’s extra special. When the venue happens to be the Southern Theatre, the oldest in central Ohio having been built in 1896, well … it was beyond special.
Set up as a round with Paul taking the first song, followed by Ruthie, then Joe. The evening started with a ‘problem’ when Thorns guitar input wouldn’t work so he simply jumped down and sat on the front of the stage and played to a thrilled audience (especially those in the first few rows). Preachers son and former boxer, storyteller Thorn gave the audience their money’s worth as he rambled through stories and songs as only he can do with his Mississippi drawl, schoolboy grin and guitar playing that would make Merle Travis & Doc Watson proud (including a cover of Lionel Ritchie’s ‘Three Times a Lady’, a song that apparently cemented him as the ultimate ladies man when he was in the 7th grade) … easy to see why his fan base has been growing ever since that Jr. High talent show.
Ruthie Foster had jaws dropping from the moment she opened her mouth when she started with her version of ‘People Grinning in Your Face” and that was just the start. With a smile that could light up any room, she played gospel and she played blues and the room responded with hoots, hands clapping and bodies swaying. Equally proficient as a guitarist, Foster’s version of Ring of Fire was clearly a highlight of the night.
The third artist on stage, the one and only Joe Ely … you’ve heard his songs many times but seldom have they been heard in a venue like the Southern Theatre. While he played a number of fan favorites, you could have heard a pin drop when he played fellow Texan Billy Joe Shaver’s ‘I’m Going to Live Forever’ … an absolutely beautiful and haunting rendition of one of Shavers best known songs.
So yes, it was a special treat .. and then some.