in performance: tim easton

Tim Easton. Photo by Michael Weintrob.

“Hope the windows are up,” remarked Tim Easton as his splendid solo acoustic performance drew to a close Wednesday evening with the rains hammering down around The Burl

Sure, the week’s abundant precipitation prompted such concerns. But the evening storm was just one of the intentional accents of ambience that added to Easton’s remarkable corral of songs – works with conversive, country-esque invitation but bolstered by a highly literary human elements that played out with zero affectation.

Other examples? Well, a siren flew past as the introductory guitar strains of “Black Dog” opened the evening. Later, a roll of thunder greeted the Texas-inspired “On My Way.” Best of all, a passing train set up “All the Pretty Girls Leave Town,” which Easton had already placed within a suitably rustic framework by using a snippet of the Doc Watson-popularized “More Pretty Girls Than One” as an intro.

But the elements only enhanced an expert sense of songcraft that was already there. Easton spun songs like campfire sagas, even though the topicality of the themes varied greatly. He detailed the domestic wreckage at the heart of  “New Year’s Day” (not to be confused with a different tune of the same name that highlighted a fine solo opening set by local hero Maggie Lander) without undue sentiment in its delivery or inordinate blame to his departed partner in the song’s storyline. From an entirely different plateau came the show-closing “Don’t Spectate, Participate” a quiet but very assured call to the voting polls and, ultimately, to civil involvement.

Both tunes came from Easton’s new folk album “Exposition,” which was released last week.

None of this should surprise those familiar to Easton’s music. Now based in Nashville, but formerly with residences in California, New York, Ohio and abroad, he has been playing Lexington venues for over two decades. Wednesday’s repertoire mirrored that alliance with songs that ran from music off his 1998 debut album “Special 20” through a generous sampling of entries from his three most recent recordings – 2016’s “American Fork” (the beautifully crafted Americana reverie “Burning Star”), 2018’s “Paco and the Melodic Poloraids” (the rootsy flatpicking vehicle “Old New Straitsville Blues”) and the four tunes picked from “Exposition.”

Of course, the obvious audience favorite remained “Lexington Jail” (from 2003’s “Break Your Mother’s heart”). The song chronicled the aftermath of an ill-fated celebration foiled by “local constables” following a Lexington concert by Wilco in 1997.

“When they let me go, I just stood with my hands to the sky,” sang Easton. “I’ll be in Tennessee tomorrow, or maybe just lay down and die.”

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