Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Singing Up for All the Ordinary Joes; ALAN NICHOL Brings You Your Weekly Round-Up of What's Happening on the Roots Music Scene in the Region

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Singing Up for All the Ordinary Joes; ALAN NICHOL Brings You Your Weekly Round-Up of What's Happening on the Roots Music Scene in the Region

Article excerpt

Byline: ALAN NICHOL

NASHVILLE resident Rod Picott swaps Tennessee for Tyneside next week when he arrives for a show in Cluny 2 on Saturday, January 23.

Although his hometown - variously dubbed Cashville, Music City, Nash Vegas, Buckle of the Bible Belt etc - lies on a similar latitude to, say, Malaga in southern Spain, the average January temperatures are not dissimilar to those of our own here in the North East.

He will certainly know what to wear, however, as he has been coming to the region for pretty much the whole of his two-decade musical career.

Picott was born in New Hampshire and raised across the state line in Maine, where one of his schoolfriends was fellow Americana singer/ songwriter Slaid Cleaves, with whom he would subsequently write numerous songs.

Picott has just released his 10th album in total, Fortune (Welding Rod Records), and it comprises a dozen songs of hard-won experiences of life, lost love and tales of the American "ordinary Joe".

He knows a bit about those times, too, as he worked on building sites fitting sheetrock (plasterboard) walls in his twenties.

He moved to Nashville around 1994 and played/sang in small clubs before ending up as driver of the merchandise truck for Alison Krauss gigs.

That resulted in an opportunity to open one show for Krauss and he impressed sufficiently to be then signed to the same management company which handled Alison.

His debut album, Tiger Tom Dixon's Blues, came out in 2001 and was based on the exploits of his great uncle, a Depression-era boxer.

The record also included the Picott/Cleaves composition, Broke Down, which was also the title track of Cleaves album of the previous year.

Picott had a clear idea of what he hoped to achieve with the current record, as he explained: "I wanted to make a record where we captured performances, as opposed to imitating performances.

"Technology makes it so easy to do an imitation of what your best performance would sound like, but that's not a real performance. That's just what you would want yourself to sound like. I didn't want to do that. For better or worse, Fortune is what I actually sound like."

The details of everyday life are keenly observed, often in near-forensic intensity, by a writer who is able to articulate those scenes and narrate with an authentic "been there, done that" precision.

He added: "I thought that calling it Fortune would put a positive spin on the that idea of chance and circumstance. It helps wrap up the feeling that runs through the world."

Picott is helped out on the album by a hardcore of friends which comprises Will Kimbrough (Rodney Crowell, Kim Richey etc.) on electric guitar, Lex Price (k.d. lang) on bass and producer/drummer Neilson Hubbard. South Shields Americana songster Tony Bengtsson opens the show. …

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