When we saw Loudon Wainwright III sing "High Wide and Handsome" from his 2009 album High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project in Nashville in July, we knew it was special. We happened to be in Nashville for the Green Day concert at the Sommett Center the night before. My family insisted we go to the Country Music Hall of Fame and as soon as I saw that Wainwright was singing the next day, I said great, let's go! He was the second of two acts on the regular Saturday songwriters series and played before an enthusiastic audience of no more than 100.
Wainwright and his band were rather low-key but excited to play the music for a live audience, probably for one of the first times. As he explained it, Wainwright's interest in Poole makes sense as Poole was a working-class Southerner who wrote great songs, was a hard partier and drinker and a consummate entertainer. What was rather sweet was how thrilled everyone accompany Wainwright band were enthusiastic by the music's response. They were all wandering around the gift shop afterward looking for stuff to bring home to their family, just like us, and we spoke to them all to tell them how much we liked it. That was fun.
So now, it's rather cool to see Wainwright's album be at the top of Ken Tucker's list of Top 10 albums of the year and be number two on Scott Alarik's top folk albums in the Boston Globe. The top album on Alarik's list is Antje Duvekot's The Near Demise of the High Wire Dancer. And we saw her do a great concert at the Blue Moon at Illinois Wesleyan last spring. She was charming.