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Read the Current John Prine 2009 Concert News, Previews & Reviews.
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December 5, 2009 John Prine at the Calvin Theatre- Special Guest: Iris DeMent. Back Up Musician: Jason Wilber

By: Quasimodo
Another great John Prine show, this one dedicated to Massachusetts guy Dave Jacques who could not be on hand to play bass as he is recovering from viral meningitis according to John. Jason Wilber, who its seems is always amazing was the band. These were the songs with their order exactly odo only for the start and finish: Spanish Pipedream, Crooked Piece of Time, Six O'Clock News, Speed of the Sound of Loneliness, Please Don't Bury Me, Fish and Whistle, That's the Way the World Goes 'Round, Sam Stone, Crazy as a Loon, Angel from Montgomery, Long Monday (Patty Griffin on background), In Spite of Ourselves (Patty taking the role of Iris), Hello In There, Bear Creek Blues, All the Best, Sins of Memphisto, Saddle in the Rain, Lake Marie, Paradise (encore).

The Review
   NORTHAMPTON - If you're a fan who saw John Prine play at the Calvin Theatre Saturday and didn't hear several of your favorite songs, maybe you just need to go a little lighter on that pre-concert eggnog.
   If you're not a fan, here's at least one bet that this show would have made you one.
   While it wasn't quite a marathon, Prine put on a long, long performance before a full house at the Calvin, delivering 28 songs in a concert that lasted two hours and 20 minutes. The veteran writer was accompanied by guitarist/mandolin player Jason Wilber and bassist Dave Jacques and did some of his best work while singing several duets with his opening act and longtime friend, Iris DeMent.
   Prine always had somewhat of a world-weary voice, and even in his early days loved characters who'd been around awhile, such as those depicted in two of the classics he played in Saturday's set, "Hello in There" and "Angel From Montgomery."
   So at age 63, those songs and others sound extremely appropriate coming from a guy who's been around the block a few times. And though his voice has aged, he's actually built up his vocal strength quite nicely, more than 10 years after he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. The cancer was located in his neck and he went through extensive surgery and radiation therapy treatment at the time.
   But he is indeed a survivor, decked out in a sharp suit and green tie for the Calvin concert, leading his band into an uptempo "Spanish Pipedream" to kick off the show, gliding through early set highlights such as "Crooked Piece of Time" and the lyrically provocative "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore."
   He told an amusing tale of how film critic Roger Ebert was one of the first people to discover him, during a time when Prine was still working as a mailman and playing short sets one night a week in a Chicago bar.
   With that he delivered a memorable version of "Souvenirs," later spinning through crowd favorites including the mandolin-backed "Fish and Whistle," solo versions of "The Sins of Memphisto," "Christmas in Prison" and the forever humorous "Dear Abby," among others, before bringing the band back into the mix on the heart-aching saga of a veteran-turned-junkie "Sam Stone."
   DeMent joined Prine about midway through his performance, harmonizing on several vintage country tracks including "Milwaukee Here I Come," "(We're Not) The Jet Set," and an especially hilarious "Let's Invite Them Over," which Prine introduced as "a cheating song, but not just any cheating song," explaining that it was written in 1962 about the subject of wife swapping.
   Prine closed the segment with his own adult-oriented duet with DeMent, "In Spite of Ourselves," the title track from his 1999 album, from which the previously mentioned country covers were culled.


November 6, 2009 John Prine at the Citi Wang Theatre- Special Guest: Patti Griffin. Back Up Musician: Jason Wilber and Dave Jacques

By: James Reed
full review here
The showstopping line, at once classic and familiar, came toward the end of John Prine’s show at the Citi Wang Theatre Friday night: “You know that old trees just grow stronger.’’
   JOHN PRINE With Patty Griffin At: Citi Wang Theatre, Friday It was vintage Prine, from the chorus of “Hello in There,’’ and he’s sung those words at least a thousand times since the song showed up on his 1971 self-titled debut. But as shopworn as the lyric is, it was a poignant commentary on how essential Prine sounds at 63 and how well his songs have aged. You could even argue that, as a grizzled lion in winter, Prine makes more sense as an old man, much like Leonard Cohen does in his 70s. Prine’s weathered voice, both gentle and gruff Friday night, now carries the weight of loneliness so many of his songs have explored. He had a simple stage setup - just Prine on acoustic guitar with superb and lean backing by Jason Wilber on electric, harmonica, and mandolin - and maybe that’s why it felt so out of time. With his usual bassist, Dave Jacques out sick, Prine performed solo for long stretches, surveying the range of his discography, all the way from “Sam Stone’’ to “Lake Marie’’ to “Crazy as a Loon.’’ It was heartbreaking to see him alone and singing, “I got so much love that I cannot hide,’’ from “All the Best.’’ During one of the night’s few rollicking moments, Prine cut loose on “Bear Creek Blues,’’ his left leg swinging and twitching the deeper he and Wilber dug into the rockabilly groove. The expected moments turned out to be anything but. He could have had opener Patty Griffin join him on “Angel From Montgomery,’’ which most folks know from his live duet with Bonnie Raitt. Instead Prine offered a threadbare rendition that was as stately as it was elegiac. Griffin later graced the stage for a pair of duets, including “Long Monday,’’ from Prine’s latest album, 2005’s “Fair & Square.’’ Griffin had big shoes to fill on “In Spite of Ourselves,’’ the kooky, he-said-she-said love song Prine recorded with Iris DeMent, but Griffin’s warm sincerity put her own stamp on it. A singer-songwriter especially beloved around here from her early days in Boston and Cambridge folk clubs, Griffin used her opening set to preview gritty gospel songs (“from a lapsed Catholic,’’ as she noted) from her upcoming album. By the time she finished “Making Pies,’’ an ode to her time working at the Table Talk pie company in Worcester, it was clear an evening with Griffin and Prine meant one thing: Misery really does love company.

my daughter and i went to see john prine for the first time on last Friday night - what a great concert! loved the way he rocked out with jason wilbur - loved his dance moves!!! his music is poetry for the masses - it really hits home. patti griffin was wonderful - so soulful, what a voice.

Jim Sullivan
Full Review and comments: here
John Prine in his prime at Citi Wang.
   Early on in Friday’s concert at Citi Wang Theatre, John Prine fondly referenced Club Passim, the tiny Cambridge folk venue he played when he was starting out. Over the course of a 100-minute set, he made the Wang feel like a bigger Passim. It was an evening of intimate, melodic country-folk music, by turns wry, droll and poignant.
   It was also, as he suggested, a tad morbid. Prine introduced the jaunty “Fish and Whistle” by saying he wrote it to counter the fact, in many songs, “I killed all my characters by the end.”
   Not all of them. One of the most wrenching songs was “Hello in There,” where Prine sang of old age and loneliness. Prine’s burred voice used to sound older than his years; at 63, he’s caught up, and it’s a perfect, lived-in fit.
   Prine played most of the set with guitarist/mandolinist Jason Wilber. (Bassist Dave Jacques was ill and couldn’t perform.) There was both a delicacy and richness to their blend of electric and acoustic guitars, of lead and rhythm.
   The set started with “Spanish Pipedream” and “Crooked Piece of Time” - both upbeat-sounding - and closed with the frenzied “Paradise.” But Prine was mostly concerned with the middle ground, where life’s hard knocks and fleeting pleasures overlap. In songs such as “Crazy as a Loon” and “Lake Marie,” there was success and failure, humor and seriousness.
Prine uses steady images - clocks that keep ticking and rivers that keep running - to anchor the craziness all around. All is cyclical.   Prine’s songs are rife with struggle, but more convey a sense of dogged persistence than they do failure.
   Opener Patty Griffin joined Prine on two songs. Griffin’s set was sublime. A lapsed Catholic, she sang gospel and scored with a humorous, albeit vicious, new breakup song, “Our Love Is a Dud.” Sang Griffin: Are you a narcissist or just a dark star?

mike r
John Prine and Jason Wilber, minus the recuperating Dave Jacques and with the help of Patti Griffin played to a full house at The Wang Center in Boston, MA last night. John's "lick" that he bemusedly described by stating "I sure as hell have gotten a lot of mileage out of this lick" should be studied by some neuroscientist somewhere with brain imaging techniques aiming to find the source of happiness, as the melodic fountain spring of all his songs causes such joy for its performer and audience. A note here, a phrasing there, a metaphor somewhere else -- one of the pleasures of watching John Prine perform is to see how happy his music makes him. Jayson Wilber is infected with the blithe spirit, too. "The leprechaun" as my friend Paul, in appreciative amazement, described Mr. Prine, walked off the stage grinning and with a bounce to his step, energized by the music he and Mr. Wilber had just treated the appreciative audience to. The mutual appreciation between Mr. Prine and his audience was conveyed by a "Thank you!" shouted by an audience member to Mr. Prine after a beautiful rendition of "Hello in There," followed by "No, thank you," from Mr. Prine, stepping up to the microphone grinning and bowing, as well as by Mr. Prine's delighted acknowledgement of a group of audience members' "loon calls" at the end of Crazy as a Loon, responding to the loon call that Mr. Prine used in the song, a sound he described as being "more like a nervous owl." Jayson Wilber was outstanding. On several songs, his guitar work brought Spanish flavor. On Bear Creek it was as if he was barely in control of his fret hand, as it moved fluidly up the neck of the guitar, chasing after Mr. Prine's driving Gibson. On all songs, most memorably for me on Six O'Clock News and Saddle in the Rain, but everywhere you wanted to look, Mr. Wilber's guitar work found tones and accents that worked beautifully within the lyrics and phrasings of Mr. Prine. Patti Griffin joined Mr. Prine for an all-too-brief two songs, In Spite of Ourselves and Long Monday. Come on, Mr. Prine, you two were just getting warmed up! Ms. Griffin's set was laid back and delightful, with her piercingly lovely voice backed by intelligent and spare backup guitar work. I am sorry I have blanked on the name of Ms. Griffin's guitar player, but the generous opening set was well appreciated by the audience, which included Ms. Griffin's mother, and ended with a shout out to Worcester, MA on Table Talk. I will not be able to recreate the set list, but I do remember: Spanish Pipedream, Six O'Clock News, Sam Stone, Glory of True Love (I think), Long Monday, Bear Creek, Paradise, Crooked Piece of Time, Saddle in the Rain, Sins of Memphisto, Fish and Whistle, All the Best, Lake Marie, Angel from Montgomery, Hello in There, Speed of the Sound of Loneliness, That's the Way that the World Goes 'Round, In Spite of Ourselves and Please Don't Bury Me. Our group had a wonderful time. Here's to Ginny, Paul, Cori and my wife Lillian, and sorry to Ginny's son who was not able to make it. The audience was family friendly, the venue was excellent, and the music was a four leaf clover.


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