Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
ee Ann Womack pretty much summed up where she's at these days in concluding her show with Don Williams "Lord I Hope This Day Is Good." The ever-strong voiced country traditionalist sang, "I don't need fortune and I don't need fame" with the concluding line of the stanza asking the Man upstairs to "plan a good day for me."
Change "day" for "night," and that about summed up the concert for both Womack and fans.
Womack's star may not be shining as bright as it once was - on the commercial front that is. Once upon a time, Womack scored hits with her traditional bent. Perhaps due to age and certainly due to a changing conception (misconception is more like it) of what constitutes country, Womack was barely heard from for a number of years after leaving the major label scene in 2008.
But a few solid indie releases, including last fall's "The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone" make it clear that Womack has not gone anywhere when it comes to what made her a star in the first place.
First and foremost would be the ability to sing the hell out of songs. Growing more and more comfortable as the 1 ¾-hour show wore on as a singer and performer, Womack's voice had a vibrancy and believability. That was the case whether on the tough sounding opening of Buddy Miller's "Does My Ring Burn Your Finger" or her take on very-oft recorded "Long Black Veil," from her latest where she breathed emotion into the song of a man going to his execution for a crime he did not commit.
Womack made it clear she was of the "real" country school - she called it that herself - obviously drawing a line with what is au courant in Nashville these days.
Her love of traditional sounds dates back to her youth, visiting the radio station where her father was a disc jockey, exposing Womack to George Jones, who she called "my favorite," and the like. In fact, Womack paid tribute to Jones with the opening encore song, the ultra traditional "You're Still On My Mind," filled with pedal steel. While other artists may name-drop Haggard and Jones, Womack would never be accused of sanctimony.
Womack sported a crack quintet with Ethan Ballinger on lead guitar and fiddle man Luke Bulla particular standouts.
Womack certainly has enjoyed fortune and fame. But not all of that lasts forever. Yet, it's with shows like this in which Womack not only pays homage to country's traditional legacy, but keeps it burning bright with her own material as well that makes Womack relevant today.
Charlie Worsham, another artist who may not quite fit into the Nashville box these days, opened with an enjoyable set. Playing solo acoustic, Worsham mixed it up with ballads, blues, soulful sounds (a nice cover of "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man") and country ("Southern by the Grace of God").
The Mississippi native showcased himself to be a worthy songwriter, painting pictures with his lyrics. Worsham connected well with the crowd - having gone to nearby Berklee School of Music for a few years certainly helped in spinning local tales.
Ultimately, Worsham had to rely on his own abilities. He was up to the task.