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Despite being short circuited, Ketchum turns in powerful performance

Cajun Creole Music Festival, Simi Valley, Cal., May 26, 2001

By Dan MacIntosh

SIMI VALLEY, CA - The large boulder-spotted foothills circling this park in the middle of California's Ventura County was an apt setting for a country music concert by Hal Ketchum, since this scenic area also served as the natural studio for many classic cowboy movies. But Ketchum's set, which was only stopped by a generator power failure right in the middle of "Dear Anna Lee," was anything but classic country.

When Ketchum pseudo-yodeled his way through the chorus of "Five O'clock World (which perfectly described the casual feelings of this Memorial Day weekend crowd), then followed that up with a soulful cover of Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey," it was clear that Ketchum is not one to conform to any particular musical mold.

Much of the audience pulled the plug on their attention spans just after Ketchum's second to last song, the hit "Small Town Saturday Night." But Ketchum still made sure this brief one-hour set was more than just a run through of his hits.

One brand new song was a working class love ode set to a Mexican-sounding melody called "Dreams of Martina." "Let's write a song and have the word 'Cajun' in it," writing partner Charlie Daniels recently suggested to Ketchum, when Ketchum told him of this Cajun country gig. This resulted in a moody new rocker about a girl named Evangeline. "Cajun blood runs through her veins," is how these two song writing veterans ended up using their challenging buzzword, by the way.

Songs like the blues-y "Awaiting Redemption" and the Southern soulful "Too Many Memories," provided further examples of just how diverse a writer and performer Ketchum is.

Ketchum may have been short-circuited early, but he still managed to turn in one powerful performance in a set comprised of both old favorites, and a few new surprises.

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