Jesse Winchester

Meet the Tunesmith

Born in Shreveport and raised in Memphis,

Jesse Winchester

is an unlikely Canadian. One of the exceptional songwriters of his day, Winchester's records wobbled between folk and country-rock, never neatly fitting into any one genre description. His flight to Montreal after receiving his draft notice in 1967 made him a

cause celebre

for the Left but effectively paralyzed his US performing career.

A sign of Winchester's greatness is how fresh his 1970 self-titled album still sounds today. Made in cahoots with Robbie Robertson of The Band who discovered Winchester in a coffeehouse in Montreal, the record includes Winchester classics "Brand New Tennessee Waltz," "Yankee Lady," and "Snow" and is one of only a few records from that era that never dates itself lyrically or stylistically. Despite having a string of high profile fans that includes Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Jimmy Buffett, Winchester burned out and "retired" from live performance in 1990. He re-emerged on the folk scene in 2000 with Gentleman's Leisure, his first album of new material in ten years. Recently his brilliant 1977 release Nothing But a Breeze has been reissued with new mastering.

Winchester has been covered by a slew of artists (Baez, Buffett, Nicollete Larson, Chris Smither, Reba McIntire, Emmylou Harris, and Wynona) but most critics agree that Winchester is the ultimate interpreter of his work. This will be a rare opportunity to see one of the premier tunesmiths of the late 20th century work his magic. - William Michael Smith

Jesse Winchester performs Friday, November 10 at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk. Call 713-528-5999 for information.

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