Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Return of Robbie Fulks

Posted By on Sat, Mar 2, 2013 at 10:06 PM

Robbie Fulks
  • Bloodshot Records
  • Robbie Fulks

Guitar wizard, country lyric genius and generally smart guy Robbie Fulks first played Solar Culture on September 15, 2001, four days after the towers fell in NYC. He told Thursday's audience he was then on tour and all he ould think of was going home. But the Tucson show was oddly magical; everybody, onstage and off, cut loose, danced and had a grand time. He always wanted to come back.

Guitar wizard, country lyric genius and generally smart-guy Robbie Fulks first played Solar Culture on September 15, 2001, four days after the towers fell in NYC. He told Thursday's audience he was then on tour and all he ould think of was going home. But the Tucson show was oddly magical; everybody, onstage and off, cut loose, danced and had a grand time. He always wanted to come back.

Last week he saw a chance to scratch that itch after a wedding gig in Palm Springs. The result was typically brilliant set for a polite crowd of about thirty. There were just enough chairs.

That may be the best Tucson could pull out on a school night without the buzz and tour support that accompanies a CD release. But Fulks spilled the little-known news that a new Bloodshot release is in the works for this year, and played sneak previews of some of the songs. If the rest compare to the new “Where I Fell” and “Leaving Virginia” (with its indelible line “twenty years of hard country/is too much truth for any man”) this new work could be the epic chronical of hearthaches wrought by The Great Recession.

Frequent accompanist Rob Gjersoe shared in several dazzling guitar throw-downs, with fans hard pressed to keep up with the flying fingers. One bluegrass jam evolved at the end into a quote from Thelonius Monk. Fulks writes pop tunes, and the set included his windows-open, high-speed “Let's Kill Saturday Night,” but otherwise the selections came from his uniquely edgey country output—favorites like “Tears Only Run One Way” and the “The Buck Starts Here.” He introduced a song inspired by the death of Jerry Reed (and sung in the manner of the rough-and-rowdy-voiced Jerry Reed) with an anecdote about a show he's doing Monday in Chicago—a mash-up of Jerry Reed and Lou Reed songs.

Fulks invited requests from the crowd, protesting a bit that he's not a human jukebox, a point that many would dispute. When when a woman hollered out “Hank Williams” it was anyone's guess where he'd start. Surprisingly he went with the lesser-known downer, “May You Never Be Alone.” But at the end he swung it into “Move It on Over,” improbably, dancing ensued, just a little taste of old times.

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