Kimmie Rhodes @ Seamus Ennis Centre, Naul - 21st March 2015


It was another full house for Lubbock native Rhodes and her son Gabriel in this intimate listening room. From the moment Kimmie walked onstage with a cheery “There you all are2 a raring to go Rhodes played a two part, 19 song set. As one might expect the set included many numbers from her latest album Cowboy Boudoir “the new songs don’t become old songs unless you play them” she teased. As well as these new songs there were old favourites such Love and Happiness and a number of covers including the set closer Townes van Zandt’s White Freight Liner Blues.

As with any live performance from Kimmie,  a large part of the pleasure comes from the between songs stories and observations which doesn’t take away from the dexterous guitar playing from Gabriel, who locks in totally with his mother. His acoustic lead playing added a great deal to the overall sound. Rhodes herself sings better than ever with a clear and concise but human voice. It is coloured by her Texas accent, something that, as with her speaking voice, adds to her uniqueness.

Some of the stories told included the town she grew up in; “Don’t go” she told us as it is a great place to be from, she says, not in. She talked about other famous sons of Lubbock including Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Buddy Holly. The duo played a fine version of Raining in My Heart in tribute to the great man. She talked about how people wondered what was in the air that produced so many great writers. Gilmore, she explained, says that it may have something to do with all the DDT sprayed all around the area when they were growing up and following the trucks around! She also mentioned another local town called Shamrock which she noted was even worse, other than a waterfall-style lamp that she liked to see whenever she passed through as a child.

One song from the new album was Yes. This was the first song she got the audience to sing along with, the chorus emphasising the positivity of “Yes, yes, a thousand times yes”. On a slightly darker theme was Lover Killing Time. She told us that she had wanted to write a mean song like some that Loretta Lynn had written and this was her contribution. She also talked of her love of Ray Price and on hearing of his passing had cracked open a bottle of wine and played every Ray Price song she could fine. Willie Nelson was another legend whom she praised and then had the audience sing his part on the song thereby has recorded together, Love Me like a Song.

She also got everyone singing on God’s Acre , “a song about dying and being buried”. She played us Bells of Joy, a song she had written for the Gospel act of that name. Kimmie noted that their lead singer had shuffled onstage with a walker and told Gabriel to stop her if she ever got to that stage. All this was related with her customary good humour. She played Donovan’s Catch the Wind for which Gabriel played a shaker and  cardboard box, which was effective and it  brought a different tone to the song. Rhodes gave us the story of her father and her upbringing among carnival folk and how he was supposed to be a used car salesman but was often engaged on something more nefarious while she sang songs for a dime, some of which she gave to her brother to avoid getting beaten up. She then played the song she had written for him Wind Blown. Contrabandistas was performed with a nice south of the border feel, very much the feeling of the song. It was first recorded back in 1981 with her band The Jackalopes. This again highlighted how this duo could ring the changes during their set. 

 This was a show where both audience and performers united and made for a evening that many would happily repeat. Kimme Rhodes can invite us again anytime into her intimate cowboy boudoir.

Review: Stephen Rapid   Photograophy:Ronnie Norton   Editing: Sandy Harsch