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Jimmy Lafave

Friday, June 24, at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 713-529-9899.

Repeatedly acknowledged as the finest living interpreter of Bob Dylan's work, Jimmy Lafave leads live shows that are never complete without a dozen Dylan covers, just as no star-studded Woody Guthrie tribute show is complete without Lafave's version of "Oklahoma Hills." His band can turn on a dime, moving with laser speed and accuracy from a heartbreaking ballad to old-school rock that no wall can withstand. His recent release, the mournfully beautiful Blue Nightfall, is another great vehicle for Lafave's singular voice and common-man vision.

A fixture on the Austin scene since moving there in 1986, Lafave has seen his talent proclaimed in the highest temples of music journalism despite his never having achieved the fame and fortune of Garth Brooks, his onetime opening act. Still, Lafave is one of über-critic Dave Marsh's favorite singers, and scribes at The New York Times swoon at his every lyrical turn and vocal nuance. Ace musicians stand in line to take their turn sharing the stage with the drummer-turned-rhythm guitarist par excellence. Yet despite all the acclaim from the press and his high-profile colleagues, Lafave continues to be only marginally successful commercially -- which only adds to his mystique and credibility.

In sum, Jimmy Lafave is famously obscure. There are Saturday nights when this Red Dirt cowboy rock balladeer passes through H-town and doesn't draw a hundred listeners. The next night Bruce Springsteen asks Lafave to join him on stage. How crazy is that?

 
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