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David Wilcox


David Wilcox with Beth Nielsen Chapman


November 1, 2002 @ Somerville Theater

With his wise baritone and giddy cackles, singer, songwriter and subtle shaman David Wilcox warmed a cool winter evening with the help of fellow troubadour Beth Nielsen Chapman. Flanked by faithful and talented sideman Jake Amending on violin and mandolin and John Ragusa on a variety of horns, flutes and shells, Wilcox and Chapman traded songs and leads, often falling into each other’s arrangements or agreeing to share harmonic duties from note one. From the personal and universal layers of "Native Tongue" to the appropriately wintry "Dark Night of the Soul," Wilcox cut to the heart of many matters and moods with deftness and grace. Though many were surprised to see Chapman on stage the entire show (expecting her to perform as an opener instead of a song-swapper), she more or less earned her place with a voice that often achieved the strength and clarity of Judy Collins. And though her guitar proved to be more of a compositional tool than a means of expression, Chapman used her husky vocals and deft keyboard work to hit the heights with the rib-shaking "For All of Us" and the bluesy ballad "Baby Dance." As the author of the chapped Faith Hill hit "This Kiss" and chunky new Hill single "Free," Chapman is undoubtedly a competent professional songwriter. However, that seemed to be the crux of the difference between her and Wilcox, who focused more on the story and the feeling than the rhyme and the paycheck. After pulling Catie Curtis out of the audience for a rendition of "Cross Over to Me," the pair of 9/11 memorials - Wilcox’s "City of Dreams" and Chapman’s "There’s a Light" – would have made a great and fitting end for any concert. And though the concert’s coda was a bit extended, the final tribute to Joni Mitchell wound up the evening of romance and delight on a series of up notes.

- Matthew S. Robinson
c. 2002, M. S. Robinson, ARR


WXRV Presents David Wilcox

April 2, 1999 @ The House of Blues

In a special listeners-only concert, WXRV brought favorite expatriate David Wilcox back to his Cambridge home for a special end of workday show. Though many fans might not have been able to get away from the office in time to join the party, those who were there were in enough of a party mood to carry the day.
Combining the sharp pulls and deep thumbs of his bright, beating guitar with deep-borne, sensitive vocals, Wilcox searched the ether for continuous inspiration and, aside from a few instances where his warm yawn became a laryngitic creak, was most often able to find it. From the humorous highway philosophy of rhythmic road rager ‘Blow ‘em Away” to an original approach towards “Come On In My Kitchen,” Wilcox used his endearing story-telling, entrancing string-work, well-placed caesura and knowing glances to deal with a bevy of human topics, from levity to pain, want to fulfillment. Taking a series of selections from his latest CD, Underneath, Wilcox worked through a version of “Hometown” which echoed in more ways than one, an appropriately stripped “Never Enough” and a titular encore which, though not as “easy to sing” as Wilcox posited, was well appreciated by the attentive and energetic audience who did all they could to bring Wilcox out from under the weather for a second encore. Though he was unable to comply, it was still a very Good Friday indeed!

- Matthew S. Robinson
© 1999 M. S. Robinson, ARR

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