Saturday, April 30, 2016

Review: Robbie Fulks at The New Vintage

By: Spooky Fitzgerald

We caught Fulks at the New Vintage in Louisville, KY, where he played an intimate set early and without an opening band. A woman seated in the front knew all the words, even the ones from his new album, Upland Stories. Though Fulks is a "Chicago-area alt-country genius," to quote Tina Fey, for this event, Fulks was accompanied by several Tennesseans-- including the bassist Todd Phillips and fiddler Shad Cobb, who both played on the Albini-produced record. 

The set began with Never Come Home, a new song relating the narrative of a man displaced from his recollected place back home with his family, who ruminates on the animosity encountered there. The album, described by NPR as "mongrel", does go lighter. "Try Leaving" was jokey, listing all the things a woman had tried to change him that did not include finally going away. Another that got a good crowd response was "Baby Rocked her Dolly," originally written by Merle Kilgore. Perhaps to keep an even keel, Fulks chose not to perform the high lonesome "America is a Hard Religion," which is a shame.

Fulks seemed to be a considerate showman, making space for each player to elaborate and play apart. Steel guitarist Pete Finney got some special acknowledgement and gave a shout out to his lovely partner Carol, who came in from Nashville with him. As a whole, the band seemed to have weathered their earlier performance for WFPK's Live Lunch admirably. Fulks worked his own merchandise booth, and stayed to visit with attendees, one of whom had him sign her copy.

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