Despite his music's regularly being heard on Larry Winters's Spare Change show on KPFT/90.1 FM, Tampa native Ronnie Elliott's only visit here so far has been a badly paired, poorly attended Ken Gaines writer-in-the-round event at Anderson Fair. Elliott hardly fit the profile of that bill, but he should find himself in more simpatico company with fellow singer-songwriters Ramsay Midwood and Dan Colehour. Elliott and Midwood, both Woody Guthrie Folk Festival regulars, take a cockeyed, screw-you approach to a folk, country, bluesy stew of rock and roll, while Colehour gets to his country-rock destination by a slightly straighter road.
Elliott's Hep was included in Mojo Magazine's 2006 Americana Top Ten. His songs often have a Paul Harvey "the rest of the story" twist that either celebrates or castigates pop culture figures (Sugar Ray Robinson, Hemingway, Benny Joy, Hank Williams, Gorgeous George, Jerry Lee Lewis, Degas, Hank Ballard and Dick Clark have all been targets of his musical commentary). Elliott, who's done this since the days when he was opening for Jimi Hendrix, wryly labels his music "hillbilly blues."
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Both Elliott's and Midwood's repertoires range from brutally poignant to pointedly political. Midwood, who reinvented the tearjerker with the spooky "Esther," tends toward enigmatic stream-of-consciousness poetry that manages to sound both entirely modern and like a Library of Congress folk archive recording at the same time, mashing up folk and rural blues with streetwise argot and pavement-level observation. Midwood's 2002 Vanguard release, Shootout at the OK Chinese Restaurant, garnered worldwide critical praise. The rock-solid heartland songcraft of Colehour, who is relocating from Nashville to Houston and has a national release coming this winter, should anchor this eclectic bill of top-shelf writers.