In a perfect listening setting Rodney Crowell brought his solo Chinaberry Sidewalk tour to the intimate surrounding of the Seamus Ennis Centre. This show was a mix of newer material, old favourites, reminisces and readings from his memoir Chinaberry Sidewalk. As he tuned up he made the comment "I Know what your thinking... I tune with style and panache". He then began a 21 song set that included songs with humour like It's Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long and poignancy like 'Til I Gain Control Again, songs that show sympathy for others as in Ridin' Out The Storm. His first reading was about his mother's epilepsy and how a group of ladies came to their house to exercise the demon that they considered the affliction to be. It was told with humour, understanding and insight. He was in fine voice and held the audience in his two hour show that included also a slightly unkempt duet with his daughter Chelsea (his opening act) on Why Don't You Love Me Like You Used To Do, the Hank Williams Jr. song. He also took some audience requests that saw him trying a version of I Walk The Line (Revisited), a song he said he doesn't often do for obvious reasons. Other highlights include Closer To Heaven his song that lists the things he now finds favour for and with, Leavin' Louisiana In The Broad Daylight, Ain't Living Long Like This, The Rock Of My Soul and a cover of his friend and mentor Townes Van Zandt's Pancho and Lefty. Two other readings from his book were about his grandfather in his grey wool suit and fedoro and going for a haircut! He also described a fight his parents had that became a turning point in their relationship. All of this highlighted that, though it had taken a long time to finish Chinaberry Sidewalks it is a work that is as rewarding as his songwriting has proved to be on record and live through the years.
Review by Stephen Rapid, photography by Ronnie Norton