Concert preview: Kevin Gordon represents Southern pride at its finest

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From the January 2, 2014 edition

By Andy Downing

Kevin Gordon has dueted with Lucinda Williams (“Down to the Well”), heard his music played on popular TV programs (“True Blood”) and been covered by the likes of Keith Richards and late Band drummer Levon Helm. Even so, the Nashville singer/songwriter remains something of an outsider, turning out smartly ambitious albums that fall far from the mainstream. It’s unlikely, for example, you’ll hear the song “Colfax/Step in Time,” a stunning, 10-minute-plus epic about a children’s marching band crossing paths with the Klan in the desegregated South, anywhere on commercial radio.

The musician’s 2012 album Gloryland — his firsts since 2005 — doubles as an insider’s tour of Dixie. Songs touch on regional folk artists (“Pecolia’s Star,” about quilter Pecolia Walker), down-on-their-luck citizens (“Trying to Get to Memphis”) and even the aftermath of a parking lot dust-up at a ZZ Top concert (“Bus to Shreveport”). But while characters struggle with hard times throughout (“I'm just another witness to my own defeat,” Gordon sings on one tune), there’s never a sense anyone is ready to give in. This is Southern pride at its finest.

Photo courtesy of KevinGordon