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Sun, Jan 6, 2008 - Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, NY with guest Jason Wilber; back up band: Jason Wilber, Dave Jacques

Our review blog ( finally developed some comments, from readers who attended Sunday's performance by John Prine at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall:
   I feel that (critic Michael Eck was) right on about the show, including the observation about the electric guitar portion. Being that it was John Prine, though, he was forgiven (by me) before he even started. He is a magical performer. I have to disagree with your opinion about Jason Wilber's songwriting talents, though. I couldn't help but think of Loudon Wainright III listening to his lyrics and musical style, and that is not a bad thing. -- Timothy Cothren
   It was apparent from the onset that either the three-hour Carnegie Hall show on Saturday night, or a case of laryngitis had taken a toll on John's voice. He admittedly hasn't been blessed with a great voice but he's always had a beautiful way of using what he has to deliver his songs directly to the head, the heart and the soul. That said, I've never heard him sound worse on stage than he did last night. His "Elvis leg" moves seemed a bit clumsy too. I thought he was sick and I was ready for a 45-minute disappointingly short performance (which would have been shorter than the time it took to find a parking place in Troy). ... It is no myth that John Prine is magical. He could now be the "hardest-working man in show business." He holds his performance to a much higher standard than might be apparent. ... He's dedicated to the fans and always gives the best he has. The "Irish cough medicine" and a drink between each song was indicative that he was hurting. Hell, he didn't even break a string on "Lake Marie." Deep inside "He's got gold," and that's what he delivered in the two hours and 15 minutes he played -- nonstop. As usual, the lineup was a nice mix from the 40-some years he's been making music, the stories were wonderful glimpses into his extraordinary life, and the performance was a gift. -- Tom Alessi - Link

By: Mike Curtin
   TROY -- One of the nation's most beloved singer-writers John Prine enthralled his loyal following Sun. at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
   Since beating neck cancer in the late 1990s, the creator of classics like "Dear Abby" and "Angel From Montgomery," has returned to the music scene with a renewed vitality, reflected both in his 2006 set of new compositions, "Fair & Square," and this year's rollicking oldies set with country crooner Mac Wiseman, "Standard Songs for Average People."
   But there's nothing that's standard or average about the work of this former postal worker, as he demonstrated constantly during a performance that spanned his fruitful 40-year career.
   Prine had no difficulty selling out the 1,200-seat hall. Renown for its superb acoustics, even the headliner's Dylan-like bark seemed warm and burnished in this pristine setting.
   Not that he was intimidated by the venue's ornate architecture and intricate frescoes, as his biting wit and irreverence was apparent throughout his 2-hour-plus performance.
   A child of the '50s, he prefaced his material with remembrances of family road trip and haunting his local drug store for the latest issue of "Hit Parader."
   He was a child of the '60s as well, as he reprised one of his early "protest" songs, the caustic "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore."
   "It's a tune I thought I'd retired 30 years ago," he quipped, "brought back by a request from our current president."
   Prine was far more than a leader of his trio, rather a crucial lynchpin of its sound. On "the Glory Of True Love" (from "Fair & Square") and the snarky divorce kiss-off "All the Best," his firm, precise finger-picking provided a deft counterpoint to guitarist Jason Wilber's spindly lead lines.
   His songs possess a raw eloquence in capturing simple emotions, and couched in a working class vernacular that transcends pat affectations, never better than on "Sam Stone," his tale of a Vietnam veteran who returns to the U.S. with a brittle psyche and a fatal heroin habit.
   Lyrics like "there's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes" has not lost its sting in the ensuing decades.
   Later, Prine strapped on as electric guitar for an aggressive finale, with the trio concocting a grand noise greater than the sum of its parts. "Bear Creek Blues," "Sweet Revenge," "She Is My Everything" and the simmering "Ain't Hurting Nobody" were the vehicle for Wilber's textbook seminar in rock, blues and country guitar styles.
   It all led to a stunning finale of "Lake Marie," a sprawlng tapestry equal parts Native American lore, a noirish cime scene and a brief shout-out to the garage-rock classic "Louie Louie," upon which the singer sketched his tale of love lost, found and lost again.
   With a grin as broad as an Illinois plain, Prine seemed a man at peace, one who had tackled the cruelest of illnesses and lived to savor the joy of life accorded those who make it to the other side.
   An encore of "Hello In There" and the his prescient ecological tract "Paradise" followed -- two very early songs and a reminder of the prodigious talent that exploded on the folk music scene four decades ago.
   Fortunately for us, his stayed a lot longer.
   Guitarist Wilber also shined in his own opening set. Bless with a clear tenor voice, close in timbre to Lyle Lovett and Jackson Browne, his bittersweet tales of carnival romances and bygone mining towns won the sideman a bounty of new fans, and perhaps an indication of a sterling solo career to come.


posted January 7, 2008
Read and comment on this review here:
TROY — John Prine, yes, indeed.
   Songwriter John Prine returned to the Capital Region Sunday, following up a well-received performance at Carnegie Hall in New York on Saturday with a wonderful visit to the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
   Prine, who now adds cancer survivor to his life resume, was in fine form at the hall, knocking out over two energetic hours of songs, including a laundry list of classics and favorites … among them atmospheric band renditions of “Angel From Montgomery,” “Sam Stone,” “Souvenirs” and “Hello in There.”
   Prine, who famously worked as a letter carrier while developing his craft, accompanied many of the songs with quaint stories of their genesis.
   Sometimes the songs even served as punch lines.
   Of his retired protest song “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore,” for example, Prine said, “I had that song stuffed and mounted and put above my fireplace years ago.
   I took it down and dusted it off by special request of the president of the United States of America. It wasn’t a formal request, but I guess you could say he was asking for it.”
   The hall was completely sold out to adoring fans, who alternated occasional requests with knowing nods of the head as Prine rolled into one chestnut after another.
   Older tunes like “Six O’Clock News” and the set-opening “Spanish Pipedream” set well against newer material, including “Glory of True Love” and a perfect rendition of Blaze Foley’s “Clay Pigeons.”
   Guitarist Jason Wilber spiked “Glory of True Love” with a dazzling solo that drew cheers from the audience, while bassist Dave Jacques did his best to bring new life to the term “slap bass.”
   Unfortunately, the arrangement didn’t work quite as well when, two-thirds of the way through the show, Prine strapped on an electric guitar for “Sweet Revenge,” “She Is My Everything” and “Ain’t Hurtin’ Nobody.” The raucous sound of his six-string simply drowned out any subtleties of the harmonies or even his own scraggly voice.
   A mid-show solo set worked to much better effect, with Prine revisiting his coffeehouse roots for “Donald and Lydia,” “Dear Abby” and “That’s The Way That The World Goes ‘Round.”
   Prine has always ably provided call-and-response figures on his guitar, and he put that to good use on his solo pieces.
   Wilber, for his part, also dropped snazzy solos into “Bear Creek Blues” and “Lake Marie.”
   The latter … a sort of spoken-word tale with a chorus … closed the show proper, followed by encores of “People Puttin’ People Down” and “Paradise,” which Prine said was inspired by his father, a frequent subject of Sunday’s stories.
   Wilber also opened the show with a fine set of original tunes that showed off his vocal and guitar chops, but proved him to be a little more of a standard-fare songwriter than his gently eccentric boss.

By: David Malachowski

John Prine plays the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on January 6.
   John Prine didn’t want to do an interview. After more than 35 years making music, he claims he’s said all he has to say in that forum. He prefers his songs to speak for him.
   Prine’s debut album, John Prine, was released in 1971 and got him hailed as a “new Dylan,” a singer-songwriter’s kiss of death. He managed to shake off that jinx, and ever since has been writing songs that are, by turns, tender, joyful, droll, poignant, eloquent, and sometimes just plain goofy. Indeed, that’s the name of one of his standards, “It’s a Big Old Goofy World,” a song made up entirely of similes, whose nonsense verses—’cause if you lie like a rug/ and you don’t give a damn/ you’re never gonna be as happy as a clam —nevertheless remain both endearing and true.

  Prine was born outside Chicago in 1946 and raised in rural Kentucky. He moved back to the Windy City in the 1960s, where he worked as a mailman and wrote songs while walking his route. He came up in the singer-songwriter scene there with fellow songster and kindred spirit Steve Goodman, who introduced Prine’s work to Kris Kristofferson. Kristofferson helped facilitate Prine’s signing with his first major label, Atlantic Records.

  Prine penned many of his most timeless tunes in the 1970s, like the colorful, “Grandpa was a Carpenter,” about his grandfather whowas level on the level / and shaved even every door / and voted for Eisenhower / ’cause Lincoln won the war; the sly “Dear Abby,” which lampoons the advice columnist: Dear Abby, Dear Abby / Well I never thought / That me and my girlfriend would ever get caught / We were sitting in the back seat just shooting the breeze / With her hair up in curlers and her pants to her knees / Signed Just Married; and the melancholy, often-covered “Angel From Montgomery,” a searing portrait of old age that begins, I am an old woman / named after my mother / my old man’s another / child that’s grown old / If dreams were lightnin’ / and thunder were desire / this old house would’ve burned down / a long time ago.
   Tired of corporate record companies, Prine formed his own label, Oh Boy Records, in 1979. He won a Grammy for the 1991 The Missing Years (which he made with Tom Petty producer Howie Epstein), then in 1997 was diagnosed with neck cancer, which, following surgery and radiation treatment, made his voice go lower. He didn’t release another album of new material until the 2005 Fair & Square, which revealed that his heart and mischievous humor were still intact. In one of the record’s best songs, “Takin’ a Walk,” he recounts a surprise visit to an ex-lover: I wish you could have been there / when she opened up the door / and looked me in the face / like she never did before / I felt about as welcome / as a Wal-Mart Superstore. For most, however, a visit from the singer is cause for celebration. a

  Prine will appear at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on January 6 at 7:30pm. (518) 273-0038;

John Prine Carnegie Hall PosterSat, Jan 5, 2008 - "An Evening With John Prine" at Carnegie Hall's Isaac Stern Auditorium with Guest Iris DeMent & Greg Brown; back up band: Jason Wilber, Dave Jacques;  on encore: Eric Tarleton

First a bit about Carnegie Hall Isaac Stern Auditorium / Ronald O. Perelman Stage
One of the world's most famous (and for tourists, notoriously difficult-to-find) performance venues, the largest hall at Carnegie Hall , has been the premier classical music performance space in the United States. Since its opening in 1891 with the American debut of Tchaikovsky it has showcased the world's greatest soloists, conductors, and ensembles. Throughout Carnegie Hall's century-plus history, with its hallways lined with original scores and autographed photos, the space has been the forum for important jazz events, historic lectures, noted educational forums, and much more. Designed by architect and cellist William Burnett Tuthill and renovated in 1986, the auditorium's striking curvilinear design allows the stage to become a focal point embraced by five levels of seating, which accommodates up to 2,804. The auditorium's renowned acoustics have made it a favorite of audiences and performers alike. "It has been said that the hall itself is an instrument," said the late Isaac Stern. "It takes what you do and makes it larger than life." ::visit Carnegie Hall's website here

By: John Platt
Read and comment on the WFUV blog
Prine Time at Carnegie Hall
Posted January 9, 2008
   Have to give a shout out to John Prine for his great concert last weekend at Carnegie Hall. It was pretty big deal - first time he’s headlined the place all by himself - and it was definitely a triumph…from the moment he hit the stage to a standing ovation.
  John Prine at Carnegie Hall courtesy of Michele Dressed all in black, with two backup musicians (one on upright bass and the other on guitar and mandolin), he called to mind Johnny Cash with the Tennessee 3. (In fact, he even did a little Johnny Cash imitation at one point.) He went right into “Spanish Pipedream,” and the set list covered just about everything - from “Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore,” “Angel from Montgomery,” “Sam Stone,” and “Hello In There” from that amazing debut album to “The Glory True of Love,” “Crazy as a Loon,” and “Taking a Walk” from “Fair & Square,” and lots in between.
   He was nice and relaxed and full of sly humor. He recalled working on an album with a strong willed producer, who said he needed to do one more song. John felt they were finished, but the producer insisted on one more song. In retaliation, John decided to go back to the hotel and write the worst song he could to shut the guy up. Now, after singing it a couple hundred times, he said he’s grown to like it and proceeded to do “Fish and Whistle.”
   Thankfully, the earthdogs in the audience weren’t as obnoxious as they were at Neil Young, shouting out requests. At one point, when there was a flurry of requests, John had a great comeback: “I’m singin’ as fast as I can!”
   Near the end, he brought out Iris DeMent, whom he introduced as his favorite singing partner, and they did a few duets, then he surprised her with a birthday cake (she turned 47 that day). But the celebration could just have much been for a 38-year career that’s survived cancer and given us some of the best-crafted songs anyone’s ever written.
By: David Schultz, a regular over at
John Prine At Carnegie Hall   Full Review here:
   John Prine is one of those musicians that has a good deal of name recognition but not a whole lot of music recognition. I would wager that the majority of people who aren't intimately familiar with Prine know him as the talented singer/songwriter of numerous songs they can't quite name while the others simply know him from Bonnie Raitt's "Angel Of Montgomery." The rest think he's John Hiatt. Myself, I fell in love with "Lake Marie" after hearing it on Vin Scelsa's Idiot's Delight, I can pick his voice out of a lineup and I know that I should respect the hell out of him even if I can't discourse intelligently on his back catalog. Given that history, my interest was piqued when I learned that the legendary singer was playing Carnegie Hall. Combine that with the fact that I never did the "practice, practice, practice" to get there on my own (actually, that would assume I can play an instrument), this past Saturday's show became a must-attend.
   Wearing one of Mao Tse Tung's old outfits, Prine, who recently turned 61, became one of the unlikeliest performers to play a near three hour set. Flanked by guitarist Jason Wilber and bassist Dave Jacques, Prine played simple arrangements of the country, blues and Americana songs that exemplify his career. Prine may not have lacked for a number of songs to chose from in order to pad out three hours, he did, though, lack for variety.
  John Prine at Carnegie Hall courtesy of Michele For the first hour of the show, Prine struggled to hit his stride. Playing rhythm on an acoustic guitar, Prine offered a number of uninspired country-tinged songs that were not at all enthralling. Even worse, whenever they joined in, Wilber and Jacques tended to overpower Prine's acoustic guitar. When Prine moved to the electric guitar for a couple blues-inflected numbers, his supporting players earned their worth. In finding the right balance with Prine's voice and guitar, they made him sound a bit like Lou Reed in his bare-bones rock period. A better addition, Iris DeMent, one of Prine's favorite country singers, joined Prine for a few country duets including "We're Not The Jet Set" and the spouse swapping elegy "Let's Invite Them Over." Her decidedly country twang was an intriguing foil for Prine's gruff and raspy voice and their collaborations were Grand Ole Opry quality performances. When Prine wheeled out a birthday cake and trotted out Greg Brown to wish her "Happy Birthday," DeMent seemed genuinely thrilled.
   The middle portion of the show featured Prine playing solo and during these songs he was at his most riveting. Much like Levon Helm, Prine's battle with throat cancer, has given added depth and texture to an already gravelly voice. It's as singular as it is captivating. In chatting up the audience between songs, Prine occasionally became slightly befuddled. Although he claimed he could sing in more than one key (meaning two), he kept starting one song over until he thought he found the right one. However, his voice never seemed to change pitch with each effort leaving you to wonder whether Prine prepared some shtick for Carnegie Hall. Over the course of the night, Prine would often forgot a line or two and after a lengthy preamble to one song, he realized halfway through it that he was playing a different one. All these little miscues were ridiculously endearing and all in all, I would have rather heard Prine misquote lyrics and tell rambling stories all night than try to incorporate the other members of the band into the performance.
   As you would expect, a predominantly older crowd came to see Prine at Carnegie Hall. This is always a recipe for an entertaining experience as you can count on a 50-something ex-hippie telling the college kid in front of him to stop dancing and sit down or catch a housewife scowling at the stoner for having the nerve to light up at a rock concert. Fortunately, I guess, none of those happened. It probably helped that there is no beer concession inside the revered venue. However, for every Wilber guitar solo, perfectly suited to Prine's uncomplicated melodies, the crowd reacted with an embarrassing overblown enthusiastic reaction. If you haven't been to many shows, I'm sure Wilber's skills seemed impressive. When you've become accustomed to seeing Josh Clark, Rob Salzer or Scott Tournet shred on a regular basis, Wilber's efforts were pretty damn underwhelming.
   At the heart of it all, Prine is one incredible songwriter and he rightfully had Carnegie Hall hanging on every word of "The Missing Years," "Please Don't Bury Me" and "Angel From Montgomery." In a happy marriage of the performer agreeing that my favorite song is one of his best, Prine closed the night with a solid version of "Lake Marie" No matter that he flubbed a line, lost his place and had to have the band cover for him until he regained his bearings, all that proves is that one of the master storytellers of our era likes to occasionally change the script.  ~
John Prine and Iris DeMent at Carnegie Hall courtesy of Michele
By: chris
john prine at carnegie hall saturday night.the acoustics were wonderful.hearing john fingerpick will stay with me for quite awhile.i must say that john seems to enjoy playing as much as we enjoy listening.even classic songs sounded like a brand new experience.the audience hung on every word and chord for three solid hours. i left the show completely satisfied and yet still wanting to hear more.iris dement came out to sing a few songs with john about midway through and she was great. i would have liked to hear her sing a song of her own with john ,but "unwed fathers" was a pleasant surprise.

By: jackster71
It was a crowning achievement for the Prine Man. For three solid hours, without a break, he sang, played, joked, and inspired the crowd. Jason Wilbur and the bass player took a break after an hour, but Johnny just kept singing and playing right through. Iris Demint was a great accompaniest for "In Spite of Ourselves" and other songs from his duet cd. I hope the concert was recorded, and look forward to a "John Prine Live at Carnegie Hall" CD/DVD.Having seen him for the first time at Alice Tully Hall in 1973, and seen him again on Saturday, I can say the talent and energy have only gotten richer. He loved the standing ovations he was getting, and seemed to really enjoy looking up at the crowds in the balconies and dress circles. I've never been at a better concert. OHHHHH BOYYYYYYYY.

By: Ima Prinefan for Lassie
I found this on a metachat →here
  John Prine at Carnegie Hall courtesy of Michele John Prine! Last night, we went to see John Prine in concert at Carnegie Hall→The tickets were a gift from me to my girlfriend, who's a huge fan. I only discovered him through her, in the last year or so, but I really like him too. The concert was awesome -- Carnegie Hall looked like it was sold out, I'd never seen so many white people in one place in New York City. :)
   What I was most struck by was his incredible generosity as a performer. He played almost three hours without a break, revisiting a lot of his older stuff, and playing some stuff from his newer albums too. One of the highlights of the show was when the sound techs put another microphone on the stage, and Iris Dement walked out and joined him for a fast four or five songs, including my favorite, "In Spite of Ourselves."
   I freely admit that when he broke into "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore," I got a little verklempt. I don't know if it's the election season, or this never ending war, but it just seemed so sad to me that this song came out over thirty years ago, and it's still so relevant to us today. Anyway, great concert.
   "Sam Stone" is such a beautiful, heartrending song, as is "Angel from Montgomery," both of which he played, along with "Illegal Smile". Really, the set list went on and on. He didn't play "Yes, I Guess They Oughta Name A Drink After You," but I've heard it before.
   As for his pedigree, a friend of mine (who knows much more about these things than I do) thinks of him as part of the progressive country music family, which includes Willie Nelson and some others. I definitely think of him as more of a country singer than a folk singer, although maybe I'd think differently if I'd been listening to him in the 70's. He's really very versatile -- he did two numbers last night that I didn't recognize which were so guitar heavy, they didn't sound country at all. And at times, I could close my eyes and hear why people compared him to Dylan when he first got popular.

By: dupreesdiamond
  So my second Prine Show (first Being ACL a couple years ago, and JP's was the highlight of the 3 days for me).
   Opened with Spanish Pipedream and Flag decal.
   It was just John Prine and the Guitar/Bass for most of the night, Iris came out halfway through the almost 3hr set for 4 song set of duets... (We're Not the Jet Set, Let's Invite the Neighbors Over (A)gain, Milwaukee Here I Dome, In Spite of Ourselves - I do believe those were the 4) The band then played a trio of upbeat (musically at least) tunes with John on electric for, I believe, the only time the last of which was Saddle in the Rain which had a nice jam at the end of it.
   Somewhere in there he introduced a song by telling a story of how his father would take them on vacation and how his mother didn't consider him a good driver...then he false started "Living in the Future" a couple times in the wrong key...then towards the end of the song informed us that after that long intro he had played the wrong song....
   For the encore he brought Iris out again and they did a couple of tunes I can't recall which two (maybe Unwed Fathers?)..anyway at the end of the second tune (Iris's husband) Greg Brown came out along with a Birthday cake for Iris...John had Carnegie sing her Happy Birthday...she was quite surprised and commenting on the lack of candles asked if she was to old to be allowed to blow out candles. They then launched into a rollicking Paradise to close the show, in addition to Greg and Iris there was another fella on Mandolin that looked like a guitar tech but I could be wrong.
   John was shuffling all over the stage most of the night and was especially animated during "Paradise". Souviners was dedicated, of course, to Steve Goodman (whose family was in attendance apparently) and John mentioned "how Steve had this way of playing...that made it sound like it came from my guitar"
John presenting Iris her birthday cake at Carnegie Hall courtesy of Michele    During "Jesus the Missing Years", after the "baby poop" line, John mentioned that he wrote that before he really "knew" it was indeed the worst kind which got him a little lost apparently as he had to go around a the block in order to recall the next line...regarding his flub "it was bound to happen once in 37 years"
   Also played, from what I can recall, in no particular order... Saddle in the Rain, Hello in There, Sam Stone, Aint Hurtin' Nobody, Six o'Clock News, Taking a Walk, Crazy as a Loon, Fish and Whistle, Unwed Fathers, Great Compromise, Please Don't Bury Me, Sweet Revenge, Souviners, She is My Everything, Picture Show, Angel from Montgomery, Glory of True Love, The Frying Pan, All the Best, Lake Marie (during which John mentioned: "Now don't get lost John" during one of the interludes).

By: Pistol Pete
"Yes, John Prine - hillbilly prophet, country and western poet laurete, an honest-to-goodness Grammy-award-winning genuine American bard, has now played on the premier stage in the entertainment capital of the world. How this second-generation Kentuckian, former U.S. Postal worker made it from Maywood, Illinois to “the City that’s so great they named it twice” is the stuff that dreams are made of, and beyond the scope of this meager post."
   Read more about Prine and Pistol Pete's "Necessary Therapy" here:


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