Jerry Jeff Walker - vocals, guitar; Ron Cobb - bass; Reese Wynans - keyboards; Tomas Ramirez - saxophone; Michael Hardwick - guitar, banjo, pedal steel; Michael Clark - drums
This is one of the most enjoyable live sets you are likely to hear from Jerry Jeff Walker, one of the last true country cowboy music stars that's still out there packing venues.
Opening with "Getting By," Walker gets the audience cheering right from the beginning. He next launches into a pretty straightforward cover of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright," which he sings as well as Dylan himself. "Feels Like 1959" which follows is the story of a memorable party Walker attended that brought him back to the kind of hullabaloos he witnessed during the early days of rock 'n' roll. "Jaded Lover" is the most traditional of the country songs played during the show and excels primarily in the pedal steel guitar work of band member, Michael Hardwick.
"Ro-Deo-Deo Cowboy" borrows heavily from country swing, and could have been recorded by Asleep at the Wheel. The poignant "Eastern Avenue River Railway Blues," is clearly the best song in the show, and sounds like a cross between Bob Dylan and Harry Chapin. It has a country-blues feel, a style of music which Walker nicknamed "Cowjazz." That was also the name of the record Walker was promoting at the time this concert was broadcast. The jazz vamp at the end of the song, featuring a blistering electric piano solo from Reese Wynans, is nothing short of brilliant.
Jerry Jeff Walker is an American songsmith from Texas who has gained recognition as an innovative part of both the folk and country-rock scenes. He is perhaps best known for his gentle ode to entertainer Bill Robinson, whom he immortalized in the song "Mr. Bojangles." This show was recorded for the "Live at the Bottom Line" radio concert series in December, 1978 and features Walker with a band that is comfortable playing both Western swing and straight up Texan rock 'n' roll.
Walker was born in upstate New York and moved to Greenwich Village in New York City in the late 1960s. He recorded two albums on Vanguard Records as part of a folk-rock band called Circus Maximus. After they disbanded in 1968, he signed to Atco Records but saw little commercial success. In 1970, he moved to Austin, Texas, where he found his true musical home. Along with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and others, he spearheaded the "outlaw" country music movement. It was also during this time that The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band had a Top 10 hit with their version of his song, "Mr. Bojangles."
Walker never had a huge hit on his own, but he did record a number of gold albums with his backing group, The Lost Gonzo Band. He named himself "The Gypsy Songman" and has remained a steady recording and touring act with a very loyal cult following.