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Gillian Welch pays dividends

The Avalon, West Hollywood, Cal., Oct. 1, 2004

By Dan MacIntosh

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - Gillian Welch commenced her show with "Look At Miss Ohio," the exact same track that also opens her most recent release, "Soul Journey." She then proceeded to 'journey' through quite a few tracks from that album, as well as many others from her previous three releases.

Accompanied, as always, by master guitarist David Rawlings - who looked like a hippie business man with his long hair and suit - Welch proved once again why she's one of today's favorite bluegrass-inspired, mountain music troubadours.

In addition to the misfortunes of the former beauty queen detailed in "Look At Miss Ohio," Welch also played "Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor" and "One Little Song" (among others) from the newest album.

Older songs included "Revelator," which featured plenty of David Rawlings' spicy acoustic guitar work. Rawlings also played harmonica in spots, as did Welch. And although his voice was mainly heard in a harmonic role, he did sing one solo number, the traditional "Diamond Joe." Welch mostly played acoustic guitar, but occasionally switched to banjo. It's simply amazing how much instrumental and vocal music is created by just these two individuals, sometimes.

Welch didn't say much from the stage, but at one point, she mentioned that she was about to deviate from the set list. But after the crowed cheered this spontaneous decision, she remarked: "Your favorite song might have been next!"

Chances are good, however, that even with her two sets combined, along with a brief encore, a few audience favorites may have still been passed over. So although she did do "Orphan Girl," which is nearly her signature song, she excluded both "Barroom Girls" and "Tear My Stillhouse Down," both of which are from her "Revival" debut album. Each are equally exemplary songs and were conspicuous by their absence tonight.

This show was opened by the adventurous bluegrass band Old Crow Medicine Show. These gentlemen later joined Welch and Rawlings onstage for a few encore numbers, including a soulful performance of The Band's "The Weight."

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings uniquely combine the traditions of bluegrass music with the sensitivity of singer/songwriters, and this unlikely combination paid dividends tonight, just as it always does.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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