Voice in hand, Roger Wallace has a lot of meat on his hoof
Johnny D's, Somerville, Mass., Aug. 13, 2003
By Jeffrey B. Remz
SOMERVILLE, MA - Roger Wallace may cut a slender figure with long legs and a white cowboy hat perched over his eyes to make him a bit on the mysterious side.
But one thing that is no mystery whatsoever is why Wallace receives critical acclaim - the guy has one heck of a voice.
That was evident time and again during his 115-minute show before a small crowd of maybe 40 people.
Sure, Wallace would have liked to play to a bigger crowd, but he has to start somewhere when making his Boston debut after three albums on independent Texas labels.
Give Wallace credit for doing something that many other Lone Star singers fail to do - venture outside the border. Touring Texas can be a cottage industry for some Texas country singers, but Wallace at least is making the effort to get known outside of the state.
Wallace dazzled with a mix of originals and covers. Most of what he sings is straight ahead honky tonk. The songs may be ballads or more uptempo, but that really didn't matter when put in the hands of Wallace.
Wallace has enough inflection and timbre in his voice without overstating his abilities and without sounding false. He can wring notes out of a song, but he's not hamming it up to win applause.
Covers included such chestnuts as Ernest Tubb's "Thanks a Lot," Johnny Cash's "Big River," Bob Wills' "Take Me Back to Tulsa" and Hank Williams' "Setting the Woods on Fire."
On each and every one, Wallace acquitted himself quite well, often delivering his own versions instead of a mere carbon copy. Capable assistance from Lebron Lazenby on guitar and Vance Hazen on upright bass only helped.
The covers didn't suffocate Wallace. He has a slew of his songs that stood up quite well.
The Tennessee native is a great talent with a lot more musical meat on his hoof.
Opener Stan Martin did a fine job himself with a set of originals and covers as well. Martin has improved over time and was sure sounding both vocally and musically with his steely guitar playing. He was ably helped by vocalist Amber Casares, who did a fine job backing up Martin.