The songs spanned American roots music, from the kickoff "Radio Boogie" to Gordon Lightfoot's "Early Morning Rain" to Randy Weeks's "Can't Let Go" made hugely popular by Lucinda Williams and given an interesting, chugging delicacy here, with this drum-free arrangement. But Bynum's five or six excellent original songs were the highlights of the evening. "Jackson County Blue" describes his family's frustration as his older brother made choices that earned him a ride on the "Blue Goose" the blue-painted bus to Jackson Prison. "Hard to Please" is a sassy, funny song about his wife. "Arkansas" somehow tied everything all together with details both small and sweeping about a place that is clearly still very much in Bynum's blood.
This fine band played for hours, chatting and joking with a deeply attentive and very happy audience in a swanky renovated condo basement in a nondescript Ann Arbor-area subdivision. People were there from Canada, Nashville, and beyond. But when the band played "Arkansas" well, that's just where we were.
Bill Bynum is at the Ark on Tuesday, July 10. You can also catch him at the Thursday night "Sounds & Sights" in downtown Chelsea on Thursday, July 5, and at the Crazy Wisdom Tea Room on Saturday, July 21.
[Review published July 2007]