Tony Joe White
As Ray Wylie Hubbard is with "Redneck Mother," so Tony Joe White will be eternally identified with "Polk Salad Annie." Which is not too shabby, but it is a shame that it overshadows his other notable accomplishments. The deep-voiced king of swamp boogie has written some fantastic songs that made other singers a lot of money. Brook Benton had a huge hit with White's "Rainy Night in Georgia," and Dusty Springfield charted with "Willie and Laura Mae Jones." Elvis, Roy Orbison, Ray Charles, Isaac Hayes, Charlie Rich, Etta James and Hank Jr. recorded White songs, and Tina Turner used no fewer than four of his tunes on her huge-selling 1989 album, Foreign Affair.
White is now touring to support The Heroines, an album of female duets with Emmylou Harris, Shelby Lynne, Lucinda Williams and Waylon Jennings's wife, Jessi Colter. Even the vocal presence of the fairer sex can't make White stray from his trademark spooky, one-step-from-calamity sound. The highlights are "Fireflies in the Storm" with Colter and the jump-jivin' swamp funk track "Closing In on the Fire" with Lucinda Williams, which features a blazing horn chart and has "alternative radio hit" written all over it.
For this show, White will be performing White Stripes-style with Nashville super-drummer and former Waylon Jennings sideman Jeff Hale. The ground will shake. But who knows whether the waters will part?
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