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Thom Bresh at City Winery, Nashville Elmore Magazine

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Music News Thom Bresh at City Winery, Nashville | March 24th, 2019

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Photos : Kathy & Ronnie Wade

The last time Thom Bresh appeared at the Nashville City Winery, he had a whole lot of help from 16 other astounding guitar slingers, there to pay tribute to the centennial year of Thom’s father Merle Travis, who’s unique self-contained playing style, known as Travis picking, placed him among the most influential guitarists of the 20th century.

This time Thom came alone, which is the ideal way to listen to the style his father brought to the world in the 1940s. If you want to get as close to the source as possible, “The Breshman” is the one to take you there. But that is just a part of what this multt-talented septuagenarian has been bringing to stages around the world since he was a teenager, performing in the showrooms of Vegas and beyond.

For the last year or so, he has been adding more fascinating stories of his life as a consummate entertainer, recording artist and of his Hollywood childhood into his shows. He grew up on a movie ranch where hundreds of feature films and TV shows, especially westerns were made and he often played a part in them, as Hollywood’s youngest stuntman-boy. If that isn’t enough, add in a strong tunesmith and song stylist who grabs the audience from the first few notes and holds them for over 90 minutes.

Kicking things off with his infectious funky groove tune “Whatever Blows Your Dress Up” he had the crowd with him, whooping away. Midway through the set he picked up that “Nine Pound Hammer” to start a medley of Travis’ iconic coalminer tunes. He paused to tell the surprising story behind the writing of the bleak ballad “Dark As Dungeon” which involved Merle spending an enchanted evening on a Southern California beach with one of his band members before leaving her at 3AM, because he had to have some songs for the recording session that day. When he wound it up with the mega hit “16 Tons,” he didn’t have to ask the audience to sing the chorus with him. We all owed our soul to the company store that night.

The minutes sailed by until he shocked us by announcing that the time to hang his incredibly unique, custom-made Dualette guitar on the wall might be arriving by 2020. That is certainly a very sad note, but understandable, as he has been giving audiences 110% for 60 years. He further underscored that by winding up the evening with Shel Silverstein’s reminder ballad “Time,” the title tune from his latest CD.

—Ken Spooner

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