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Thread: Jimmy LaFave, RIP

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    Ultimate Carrie Fan Farawayhills's Avatar
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    Jimmy LaFave, RIP

    I was very saddened to read of the death of one of my favourite singers, Jimmy LaFave, at the age of 61, from a rare form of cancer.

    Jimmy was one of the giants of the Roots Music scene, with strong connections to the Oklahoma-Texas singer/songwriter and Alt Country/Red Dirt traditions. He was born in Oklahoma, and retained strong links to the state, being a leading authority on Woody Guthrie's legacy, and appearing regularly at the free festivals at Okemah. Of latter years, he was a leading figure (arguably, the doyen) of the Austin, Texas music scene.

    He had a distinctive tenor voice, which could dwell on, and draw out, the emotion in a song, and he was noted both for his own writing, and for the memorable covers he performed of other artists' work (notably Bob Dylan, of whom he was an acclaimed interpreter). He was also generous in his appearances with other singers, and was widely appreciated by his peers in the music world. I'd like to include here a few examples, of both covers and original songs.

    This was an example of the jams he performed in the Music Fog loft at Okemah - the band is Stone Honey, and the female singers are Red Molly, a favourite "girl group" of mine, that I've followed for years.
    (At the end of this clip, Jimmy can be heard asking for a cigarette - a poignant habit, in view of his later illness and relatively early death)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlFy7lYsUJ0

    This is a cover of one of my all-time favourite songs - Gretchen Peters' "On A Bus To St Cloud" - an unusual male interpretation of an originally female song, about the suicide of a lover
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2-Rak76k_0

    In this video, Jimmy sings the old Woody Guthrie song "Oklahoma Hills". In the intro he explains that the song was credited to Jack Guthrie (Woody's cousin), who was better known at the time, from acting in cowboy films - but Jack's version changed both the melody and some of the lyrics. Jimmy recreates Woody's original version.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgILi7iQw4A

    From ten years ago, this haunting song was one of my favourite Country protest songs, of the post-Dixie Chicks era - (the loss of Alt Country's best known Mainstream representatives reverberated harshly through the Roots Music scene.) The female voice providing harmonies is Texan Carrie Rodriguez.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-y-fFzA3DI

    From Jimmy's later years (when his health no longer seemed strong)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2gQT6zr-ns

    And, a brave, but very touching, farewell. This was on Friday, a couple of days before his death. A large group of artists had assembled for a tribute concert, and Jimmy unexpectedly joined them on stage, in a wheel chair, and assisted by an oxygen tube, to sing the Huddie Ledbetter classic "Goodnight Irene"
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Llg38OBZ5w

    There are dozens of other videos on YouTube - part of the legacy of someone widely regarded as one of the most distinguished figures of the contemporary Roots genre. RIP.
    hjj and Momin like this.


 

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