Friday, May 25, 2012

Steve Justman Plays Friday at the Ford

Steve Justman is a collector of songs, and like many collectors, he likes to show others what he's found. That's what you'd expect from a folksinger, a role Steve plays well. In his Friday at the Ford concert at the Thomas Ford Memorial Library, to the delight of the audience, he pulled 18 songs out of his big bag. Many were familiar without being from a predictable playlist of the past, each ripe for rediscovery. A few old songs from outside the mainstream of popular music were revelations. "High on a Mountain" by the Appalachian singer/songwriter Ola Bella Reed is the best example of something old that was totally new to most of the listeners.

Steve is also a historian of American song. For almost every song he provided a context, often noting singers and songwriters, but sometimes adding personal reflections. What became obvious is that he has crossed musical genres all his life. It seems natural that he was able to sing Dean Martin's "Memories Are Made of This" to his between two country classics. People sand along, as they did with Steve Goodman's "The City of New Orleans." My favorite of the night was "You Got Me Singing the Blues," sung more in the sty;e of Guy Mitchell than Marty Robbins.

I enjoyed talking about music with Steve while he packed his guitars and banjo away, being just hours away from a trip to Minnesota to play bass for June's Got the Cash, a June Carter and Johnny Cash tribute band. He's be back in the Chicago area soon, playing for senior centers, farmers' markets, and libraries. See his website for the schedule.

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