Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
oug Seegers probably should be pinching himself these days. He's not some country music cover boy or hunk wearing a baseball hat or highlighting a bunch of tattoos.
If looking for opposites of what passes for a country musician these days, Seegers would probably just about be the top pick. Yes, he lives in Nashville, but he just retired after four decades as a cabinet maker. His path to a record label was not straightforward. At least not when you're 62 and just released your debut. A Swedish TV show looking for street musicians in Nashville found Seegers, who soon ended up with a number one hit in Sweden.
Seegers , who said he released one lone single many years ago, put out his debut, "Going Down to the River" in the U.S. last week on Rounder Records.
Seegers is a throwback honky tonker, as he demonstrated during his Boston-area debut, who did a lot of listening to Hank Williams throughout his 62 years. In fact, he dished out two Hank covers in his opening set, including a fine take on "Kaw Liga."
Seegers' night was steeped in traditional country music. Seegers was at home with honky tonk. He slowed it down with straight ahead ballads with no problem. But, most importantly, not matter what the style, Seegers showed time and again he could deep way down and find an emotional core in the songs.
Armed by a lone acoustic guitar and ace fiddling from Barbara Lamb (once upon a time, she was a member of the all-female band Ranch Romance and now manages Seegers), an easy going Seegers sang with utmost confidence during his two sets. He put an occasional hiccup in his voice, but was not content to do the same thing time and again.
His choice of covers was telling as well. Whereas today's country headliners for almost all rock oriented when it comes to covers, Seegers not only went for Williams, but also Travis Tritt's "Country Club" with the lines "I'm a member of the country club/country music is what I love" making the words ring true. He closed out the night with a solo reading of the Mark Wills 1998 hit "Don't Laugh At Me" about treating others who were picked on with respect. Seegers made it sound far more country than the original.
Seegers knows a thing or two about being down on his luck, reportedly being homeless for a stretch. He's a late bloomer to say the least, but he sure seems to be making the most of it. "I'd like you to think about how good life is for you these days," Seegers told the crowd at the end.
You'd think that Seegers may have been giving himself a pep talk. No need though. Life most definitely is good given the quality not only of his release, but his live show as well. No pinching needed.