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Pop Montreal 2006

If it makes for a good story...

Posted by Cat / October 5, 2006

IMG_0893.JPGWhen I dislocated my thumb last week, I learned the lesson we all must learn over and over again: our time on this earth is precious and every moment is a gift. As the emergency-room doctor coaxed my misguided digit back into place and my life flashed before my eyes, I resolved then and there to take time for the things that I love, to actively seek out that which makes me happy, and to try to live a life that makes for great storytelling.

Kinda like Mr. Ramblin' Jack Elliott.

When Ramblin' Jack and pals set up shop in the Ukrainian Federation Hall on a rainy Wednesday opening night for POP Montreal, there was no mistaking this group for anything other than a bunch of folks seeking out what makes them happy and taking time for that which they love – good storytelling and great music.

The sleeper hit of the night was surely the young Mr. Jesse Jackson. Sporting a bowtie and a crisp shirt tucked into what might have been (or might as well have been) a pair of seersucker pants, Jackson opened the evening with a roster of songs that were simultaneously charming, earnest, and clever. And what a voice! Resist the temptation to liken Jackson's voice to that of Jeff Tweedy, for the comparison ends there. Imagine instead what the result might have been had a young Paul Simon come of age during the Dustbowl. It's a rare and wonderful thing to hear such solid folk writing from a young musician. Tunes were inflected with occasional Appalachia and jazz styling. This is one to watch – you heard it here first. Unless, of course, you've already heard it somewhere else.

Fresh-faced folk was followed by the world-weary well-traveled balladeering of Al Tuck, veteran of the Halifax music scene. This is the real deal - this guy has been through the ringer and back. He gave us a beautiful 10-minute ballad about Gene McClellan, deceased musician and father of his ex-wife. Would that be the same wife that recently cheated on him, then bailed both as his spouse and as his ride to Moncton to catch the plane for Montreal? It is evident that Tuck loves to sing; it may be the one pursuit that can soothe this tortured soul. Looking somewhat Dylan-esque (I didn't just say that) with a lean, hunched stance and harmonica slung around his neck, you get the feeling that Tuck would sacrifice almost anything in the pursuit of song. A self-proclaimed "morass of open tuning" cut Tuck's set a bit short, and we are all the poorer for it, but he did leave us with such gem lines as "be careful what you do to someone who can write."

IMG_0905.JPGThe heartache continued when the sweet, soulful voice of Katie Moore lamented that "the only thing worse than having your heart broke, is having no one willing to break it." Ouch. The always-lovely Ms. Moore, backed by her full band including Mr. Josh Dolgin on piano, gave us a taster of her recent recordings with the poignant "Getting Older", then she flashed her eternally young smile at the audience. No matter how much sadness she may strive for, Katie Moore can't help being anything but pure joy and her rousing version of Doc Watson's "Ain’t got no honey baby now" closed the set in fine form.

And now for the story-telling segment of our show. Ramblin' Jack Elliott used to have this great dog named Cesar – best dog you ever could have – and once on a long car trip to Denver from Montreal, Jack asked Cesar to help him with the driving and help he did, while Jack took a nap in the back of the car. I once heard that any good country singer, one worth their weight in gold, always has a song about their dog.

Ramblin' Jack Elliott doesn't like cigarette smoke, air travel, cameras (sorry folks, no photos) or outdoor festivals. He loves motor homes, women, and the rodeo. After years of helping rodeo cowboys with everything from saddles to bucking broncos, Jack developed a bit of a taste for bull's manure and that's what has made him into the fine bullshitter he is today. So goes some of the ramblings of Jack.

Ramblin' Jack launched right into his set with "House of the Rising Sun", his voice still true and strong, despite the wrinkles and snow-white hair. More stories ensued then he gave us the plaintive "The Ranger's Command" from his old pal, Woody Guthrie. After threatening to "sing so many sad songs you'll be glad to get outta here", he gave a spirited version of "A Rake and a Ramblin' Boy" by (I think) the Carter Family. He represented his other bosom pal with a cover of Bob Dylan's "Don’t think twice, it's alright."

And truly it was, all right. Four talented folk singers, doing what they love and what they do best and bringing joy to all within earshot. Ramblin' Jack may be a little bit frailer and more easily fatigued than he used to be, but the music seems to keep him young. He can pick and yodel and wail like nobody's business. With a walloping rendition of "Boweevil" for an encore, Ramblin' Jack Elliott proved that he clearly has zest, lust, and ramble in him still, and his stories and music encourage us all to take the time to do the same.

Discussion

7 Comments

Hannah / October 5, 2006 at 11:14 am
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Now there is a show I feel sorry to have missed. Sounds like it was a great great night.
golu dolls / March 25, 2019 at 04:36 am
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nice post
Kanchipuram sarees / March 25, 2019 at 04:36 am
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nice post
Kanchipuram sarees / March 25, 2019 at 04:37 am
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nice post
Herbal Powder / March 25, 2019 at 04:38 am
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nice post

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