Show Review: Rodney Crowell is Zen Master at OKC’s Tower Theatre

Show Reviews

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Rodney Crowell played Oklahoma City’s Tower Theatre Sunday night to a near sellout crowd. About halfway through, Crowell admitted it was his first time back to OKC since just after the Murrah Building bombing in 1995. He indicated he didn’t know why it took so long for a return visit; just that sometimes that’s how it goes. I certainly hope it’s not another 24 years before another visit. 

If Steve Earle is the “Godfather” of Americana, Rodney Crowell is the Zen Master. He’s a man that likely listens more than he speaks, and as such, when he does speak, it’s something we undoubtedly need to hear. Much like Earle, he’s an imposing presence, maybe even a bit gruff at times, but he’s one of a kind, and one hell of a songwriter.

Much has been written of Crowell’s forty years of songwriting gold. He’s an extremely clever songwriter, one that honed his craft at the same table as his peers. The influence of old friends is always there, but Crowell  has always followed his own path, one that has served him well. He’s had chart-topping singles, and he’s a member of the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame among other accolades.

But, despite all that, he’s still growing as a songwriter, still striving to learn and write a better song than the one before. All of this was well represented in the treasure of material Crowell shared with us. Crowell opened with the potent one-two punch of “Glasgow Girl” and “Earthbound” before presenting the finest cover of Guy Clark’s “Stuff That Works” that I’ve ever heard. 

Crowell was joined on stage by the fabulous Eamon McLoughlin on fiddle and mandolin as well as acoustic guitarist Joe Robinson who also opened the evening. Together, the trio presented a stunning   representation of Crowell’s songwriting history, with each subsequent song seemingly better than the last. “Frankie Please,” “East Houston Blues” and “Reckless” were all notably memorable as was a marvelous rendition of his latest gem, “It Ain’t Over Yet.” Those early hits that Crowell built his reputation upon were also present as well. “Til I Gain Control Again,” “She’s Crazy For Leaving” and “Leaving Louisiana In the Broad Daylight” were all represented and sounded as fresh and potent as any of the newer material. Rodney Crowell is undoubtedly a treasure. He’s one of my favorite songwriters, singers and authors. Don’t miss him if he’s sharing these songs in your town. Crowell has a new album titled Texas coming on August 15th via his own RC1 records. More information on this release and on  Crowell in general, including tour dates can be found here :https://www.rodneycrowell.com/

Serving double duty opening and playing with Crowell was Joe Robinson, who quite simply was one of the best acoustic players I’ve ever seen. Born in the bush country of Temagog, Australia, Robinson is a self-taught player that won “Australia’s Got Talent” television show, and has been nearly constantly on the road since. He displayed his prodigious fretboard talents with a solo representation of songs from his current release, Undertones the label,  Joe’s Garage. His playing immediately brought to mind a blend of Monte Montgomery, Richard Thompson and Tommy Emmanuel. In fact, with further research, I found that Emmanuel has been quite influential to Robinson, and I was also excited when he hinted that he should be returning to OKC on a double bill with Emmanuel soon. I’m definitely looking forward to it. More information on Joe Robinson can be found by visiting:https://www.joerobinson.com/

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