by Joan Barrett
I doubt that I am alone in my lack of enthusiasm for Ďfolk singersí that are reported to have deep thoughts. To me, the music is the delivery system for the words, if the music isnít substantial enough without words, the addition of prose that I could read more enjoyably printed on a page arenít going to assist in my getting the message. Delightfully, Jesse Winchester shares in that avoidance of the type, his music is beautiful and lively by turns and supports the clever and well turned phrases that are his trademark.
Like the storyteller that he is, Jesse sings his stories with his entire body. His expressive face, facile body and an incredible left foot that does itís own ballet, swaying and delicately pointing, do their part to convey and underscore the message that he delivers with beautiful melodies and a wonderful voice. In concert with just a guitar, his words leave his mouth nestled in old flannel.
We have been listening to Jesse Winchesterís latest CD, Gentlemen of Leisure, for over a year now, at times, daily. Our complete familiarity with the songs he sang at the Palms Playhouse in Davis, CA on January 24th 2001 was a basis for comparison. The simplicity of the distilled versions that he sang to the rapt audience that evening rang sweet and lovely. The Palms Playhouse audience, legendary among performers as a gathering of people that really love the music, was particularly attentive as Jesse lovingly and in complete control, went through his playlist. Even when he gently joked about the election of ďourĒ president, the Canadian was not really accessible to the audience. There was a reverence in the listeners that resulted in an uncanny silence that allowed one to hear the gentle patter of the rain on the Quonset roof along with every note and syllable of the performance.
"Gentleman Of Leisure" Sugarhill
Records SUG-1062 (CD only) 1999
"Best Of Jesse Winchester" Rhino Records R2-70085 (CD / CS / LP) 1989
"Humour Me" Sugarhill Records SUG-1023 (CD / CS / LP) 1988
"Talk Memphis" Stony Plain Records SPCD-1227 (CD only) 1981
"A Touch On The Rainy Side" Stony Plain Records SPCD-1218 (CD only) 1978
"Nothing But A Breeze" Stony Plain Records SPCD-1217 (CD only) 1977
"Let The Rough Side Drag" Stony Plain Records SPCD-1206 (CD only) 1976
"Learn To Love It" Stony Plain Records SPCD-1205 (CD only) 1974
"3rd Down, 110 To Go" Stony Plain Records SPCD-1199 (CD only) 1972
"Jesse Winchester" Stony Plain Records SPCD-1198 (CD only) 1970
Or visit the Jesse Winchester website
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