(c) 2006 Jimmy Lafave
Jimmy Lafave

Playbill: Jimmy Lafave

I recently talked with

Jimmy Lafave

about one of his favorite subjects, Oklahoma songwriting legend

Jimmy Webb

. The longer the conversation went on — and there are no short conversations with the ebullient Lafave — the more I realized what a student of songwriting Lafave is. Known among other things for his brilliant renderings of complex

Bob Dylan

songs like "

Tangled Up In Blue,"

Lafave recorded Webb's

"The Moon's a Harsh Mistress"

on his


album in 2001, and that version stands alongside those of Judy Collins, Joe Cocker, Linda Ronstadt, and Joan Baez as a powerful reading of what all agree is an unusually difficult song to nail.

"I'm just fascinated by Webb's work. He's such a professional, but unless you're a musician I don't think you can fully appreciate his brilliance. He has this uncanny instinctive facility when it comes to melodies."

All this is taking the long way 'round to saying that Lafave is no slouch himself. And what makes Lafave a singular talent in his own right is that he has the ability and the subtlety to nail a beautiful pop song like "Harsh Mistress" and follow it with a pedal-to-the-metal Chuck Berry rocker or one of his own soulfully blue compositions like "The Open Road." It's this range and ease that make Lafave a perennial favorite at listening rooms and festivals around the world. -- William Michael Smith

Jimmy Lafave performs on Friday, March 2, at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 713-528- 5999.

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