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Slaid Cleaves


Ellis Paul & Slaid Cleaves

August 16, 2003 @ The 2003 Apple & Eve Newport Folk Festival, Newport, RI

It was a Maine-iacs paradise as two of Down East’s favorite sons (and guitarist/dobroist Jeff Plankenhorn) converged on the showcase stage at Newport to share stories and songs of the road. Fresh off a tour that featured tributes to Folk icon Woody Guthrie, the talented pair mixed original numbers with traditional and new musical settings to Guthrie’s immortal words. Paul opened the musical meeting of the Maine men with a sibilant whisper of Mark Erelli’s “The Only Way.” When it was his turn, Cleaves changed the tempo and the tenor of the set with the twangy “Wishbones.” As soon as Paul launched into an unevenly paced version of “The World Ain’t Slowing Down,” the fan-packed tent erupted in applause. Giving the crowd some time to calm down, Cleaves told a humorous story of the neighbor in his adpoted home of Texas who inspired the sadly knowing song “Horses and Divorces,” which was made all the more Country-fied by Cleaves’ impressive yodel solo. Picking up on the story-telling idea, Paul explained how he and Cleaves had decided to write a love song while on the road. The result was the simple though painstakingly-constructed loss poem “She Was.” Stepping out from behind the dobro, Plankenhorn offered a playful entreaty called “Theresa” with Cleaves offering solo support. After Paul demonstrated his ability to put Guthrie’s words to beautiful music with “God’s Promise,” Cleaves closed the set with an unplugged revival of the Gospel standard “This Morning” that, though at times hard to hear, was easy to feel.

- Matthew S. Robinson
c. 2003, M. S. Robinson, ARR


©2003-2005 Boston Beats





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