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John Prine Concert Tour and Reviews 2007

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Sunday December 16, 2007 John Prine and Mac Wiseman at the Shermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville, TN
Back up band for Prine: Dave Jacques, Jason Wilber. Back up band for Wiseman: David Ferguson and Jason Carter. Guest Appearance for encore: Pat McLaughlin

Richard Weintraut

I've been following Mr. Prine around for about 30 years. I stopped counting long ago, the number of shows I've seen.
   This may have been, from a musical standpoint, the best Prine show I've ever seen.
   Sorry... I don't keep set list, and don't take pictures... so I'll just give some rambling thoughts.
   For starters, I was wrong in my thinking of the concert. I figured that Mac Wiseman would be a guest and sing a few songs with John off the new recording "Standard Songs For Average People".
   Nope... Mr. Wiseman opened the show.
   He had for his "band" two great players from The Del McCoury Band. (Probably the best bluegrass band going.) Ronnie McCoury on mandolin and Jason Carter on fiddle. They had a rather surprising bass player. David "Furgy" Ferguson who recorded and mixed "Standard Songs For Average People". Mac said it just wouldn't be right without "Furgy" there...
   I simply can't say enough about Mac Wiseman.
   If you want to hear REAL country music, find Mr. Wiseman. He started out with "Wabash Cannonball". He sang "That Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine" "The Prisoner Song" "The Old Rocking Chair" "Wreck Of The Old 97" and a couple of traditional songs, one of which was "The Night I Took Mary Home". He also did his "signature" song "Tis' Sweet To Be Remembered" and several more. He was onstage about an hour. Mac was in great spirits, telling stories all through his show. At the end of his set John came on stage and they sang "Don't Be Ashamed Of Your Age" (Cracking jokes about it all the time.), "The Blue Side Of Lonesome" (Which was absolutely beautiful.) and "Pistol Packin' Mama". They tried to get the audience to sing along with "Pistol Packin' Mama", but everyone was just in awe of what was going on onstage.
   Mac Wiseman has been making great music since he started professionally around 1946.
   He said at the "Breakfast With John Prine" a couple of weeks ago, that this would be his final professional performance. He would be retiring after this show.
   I have a suspicion... and that's all it is... that maybe.. just maybe.. this show was a gift from John Prine to Mac Wiseman. And it was certainly a gift to all of us who were lucky enough to attend and hear this music legend.
   They took a short break and then... John Prine...
   John came onstage to a thunderous welcome.
   And it was a beautiful thing to see.
   The Schermerhorn is a beautiful building and the acoustics are the BEST I have ever heard anywhere. If you think Jason Wilber is a great guitar player, you should hear him at the Schermerhorn. Dave Jacques? Absolutely marvelous.. and I don't give a damn what John Prine says.. If you would have heard him Sunday night you would know what a GREAT thumb picker he really is... All night, every note, the music just rang through the building... I am positive, they have never sounded better.
   There was really not much of a stage setup. Just a beautiful stage of dark wood, with one single circle light that covered all the players. With the chandeliers overhead and the beauty of the building itself, that was all that was needed. All through the evening while watching John, I would see him look around at the crowd and building.
   He changed a few things around with this show, I knew something was up when "Six O'clock News" was the third song he played. He also did quite a few from "Storm Windows" that I haven't heard in concert much.
   The solo set was also quite a bit different. He sang "The Great Compromise" solo which is one of my favorites, and you don't hear often in concert.
   He told a story of moving to Nashville, and then later moving his mother here... right down the street from where he lived. He said he could take his guitar to his mothers and play this one song and she would fix him about anything he wanted to eat.. The song was "Souvenirs". . and he finished it by saying "What's for dinner Mom"... Kinda choked me up...
   He did a great "Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness" and dedicated it to Nanci Griffith. "Angel From Montgomery" was also done as well as I've ever heard it.
   Pat McLaughlin joined John, Jason & Dave onstage for several numbers, even singing a verse or two from "Daddy's Little Pumpkin" which I believe he co-wrote.
   Of course, EVERYONE ended up onstage for the "Paradise" final... even brother Billy...
   There is no way I could tell you all the special moments about this show, I'll be remembering them for days.
   Wish you all could have been there... I really do...
   He didn't play them all, but he was onstage about two and a half hours.


by: Nashville news reader

full story posted Wednesday, 12/19/07 here
   Mac Wiseman at the Schermerhorn
   Mac Wiseman looked out at Sunday night’s cheering Schermerhorn Symphony Center audience. They were clapping for him, acknowledging a charming performance in his opening slot at John Prine’s sold out show and also showing appreciation for his 65 years in show business.
  “I apologize for not standing, but a person could get a lot older waiting for me to get up,” said Wiseman, 82, who is bound to a wheelchair these days.
   Wiseman, a member of the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame, had been quite clear in telling folks that the Schermerhorn show would be his last showcase gig.
  “I love singing for people, but I don’t have much use for the road anymore,” he said in an interview. “I reckon I’ve been about everywhere I wanted to go.”
   Wiseman’s career has included shows at Madison Square Garden, the Hollywood Bowl and plenty of other places that most musicians can’t get into without a ticket. His big, full, crooning voice – still powerful and pitch-true, by the way – makes him something of a bluegrass Sinatra, and he has long been known as “The Voice With A Heart.” He has pushed against boundaries for years, recording plenty of bluegrass but also working with folk, rock and country material. Two massive, multi-disc Bear Family boxed sets attest to his artistry and versatility.
   The Schermerhorn crowd wasn't’t necessarily aware of all of that, though many of them were well familiar with Standard Songs For Average People, the duets album with Prine that was released this year on Oh Boy Records. On Sunday, Prine joined him for smile-inducing versions of “Don’t Be Ashamed Of Your Age" and “Blue Side Of Lonesome,” each from that album. Before that, Wiseman and a band that included bass man (and Standard Songs producer) Dave Ferguson, fiddler Jason Carter and mandolin player Ronnie McCoury played a set that included classics “That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine,” “Jimmy Brown, The Newsboy,” “Bringing Mary Home,” “Footprints in the Snow” and “‘Tis Sweet To Be Remembered.” He also told some well-honed jokes, like the one about the drunk fellow who runs out of paint while he’s working on painting the church steeple. The guy winds up mixing some of his booze with the remaining paint, and he begins to work to finish the job. Just then the Lord booms a command: “Thou shalt repaint, and thin no more.”

  Wiseman’s good humor, stage presence and remarkable voice helped keep the evening from feeling too bittersweet, and he and Prine left to rousing applause. Then it was break time, and then Prine came back onstage and said, “You look familiar.”
   He opened, as always, with “Spanish Pipe Dream,” and played a marvelous, entertaining and generous set, with significant contributions from bass player David Jacques and multi-instrumentalists Jason Wilber and Pat McLaughlin. Prine isn’t following rigid setlists these days, and he found time for surprises including “Daddy’s Little Pumpkin," “Ain’t Hurtin’ Nobody,” “Bottomless Lake” and “Carousel of Love.”
   Prine’s band is the most subtle and expressive of outfits, always keeping the lyrics and melodies out front but contributing punch and intrigue when necessary. The songs were, and are, simply some of the most original, humorous and undeniable compositions of our time. “Broken hearts and dirty windows make life difficult to see,” he’ll sing. “That’s why last night and this morning always look the same to me.” And then every songwriter in the place will squirm a little, smile nervously and contemplate chucking every guitar and notebook in the house into the Cumberland River. Ah, good times.
   Wiseman, by the way, promises that he’s not completely going away. His wheelchair makes road-life difficult, but it doesn’t impede him from recording.
   “I have songs that were taught to me when I was a child that no one else knows,” he said. “If I don’t record them, then they’ll disappear when I’m gone. So I’m working on recording those, because they’re wonderful songs.”

November 30, 2007 - John Prine and Mac Wiseman Breakfast with Bill Cody at the Station Inn, Nashville, TN - live on 650 AM WSM Radio

By: Richard Weintraut

  WSM really knows how to put on a live broadcast. When you arrived they had a little bag for you, with a travel cup and several little bags of special blend coffee to take home. At the tables (I'd guess the place seats maybe 125 people) they had a sign "Reserved For WSM Radio Winners" with the WSM radio logo. Then you were sent to an area where they had the breakfast on steam tables... including fresh fruit, and all kinds special breads from the Whole Foods Market in Nashville (One great store)... The store itself has a restaurant in it.. great stuff...
   I thought that it would mostly be conversation about "Standard Songs For Average People" but since I got there extra early, I saw them sitting up both of John's guitars and knew it would be special.
   The show was mostly concerning "Standard Songs" and "Fair & Square" but the live music part of the show was very similar to when John is on tour and does his solo set... Just John and his guitar doing the old favorites. I know I'll miss many, but right off the top of my head I remember "Paradise" (Which he called Muhlenburg County, saying he was originally going to call the song Muhlenburg County, but was sure everyone would mispronounce it.) "Fish & Whistle", "Souvenirs", "All The Best", "Dear Abby", "That's The Way The World Goes 'Round"... I know there were several more, but I didn't keep a list... Lots of talk about nearly every song. And even with all the concerts I've been to, and everything I've read, he mentioned things I'd never heard. As usual, he had the crowd laughing and in the palm of his hand. One big moment was when he did "Souvenirs". .. the room went absolutely silent.. In fact, even crowded as it was, when John was singing, everyone listened to every word. You could tell.. these were true fans...
   They also played recorded songs from "Standard Songs" and "Fair & Square".
   Mac Wiseman was there and told great stories of touring with Hank Williams, Jim Reeves, Flatt & Scruggs and many more. The only sad part of the show was that he announced that he had chosen his appearance with John Prine at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center to be his last official performance and that he was going to retire. I think this will be a VERY special concert. John mentioned during the program that when they recorded "Standard Songs For Average People" they needed a big band... extra singers...etc. .. So I expect this show will not be the normal John Prine Concert. And with Wiseman there, it will be extra special.
   John looked great, seemed very relaxed and was having a great time laughing and telling stories.
   John & Mac stayed long after the show, talking to people, signing autographs etc.. I got to talk to both of them for just a moment, and got my "WSM placemat" signed by both.. but everyone one there was trying to get to the stage, so I didn't stay long.
   The morning will certainly go in my "Top Ten Prine Moments".


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