T he number of burly blokes in Steve Earle tour T-shirts was an indication that news of headliner Stacey Earle's familial affiliation was finally reaching the suburbs.
That the curious had come to Ted's Wrecking Yard to check what Steve might sound like if he'd been born a woman didn't seem to bother Austin-based opener Jimmy LaFave any more than it did Earle. A road warrior like LaFave can usually turn a second billing to his advantage.
For a singer/songwriter best regarded as an interpretive stylist, LaFave doesn't have that great a range, nor is his repertoire terribly broad, covering Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and on this night, Townes Van Zandt's Snowing On Raton. What he's got is that rare gift of genuineness and that makes up for a lot of shortcomings.
Had LaFave decided to sell Range Rovers instead of the blue-collar blues, he'd probably be a wealthy man by now, because he's got a knack for making every syllable sound deeply heartfelt. Because he's canny enough with his phrasing choices, even the Dylan favourites he hauled out came across as strangely autobiographical.
That's some accomplishment, but to what end? It's largely LaFave's forte of reformulating the familiar that's kept him singing Woody Guthrie tunes in bars instead of performing his own compositions in theatres. But, hey, whatever works.
JIMMY LAFAVE, with MARK STUART, opening for STACEY EARLE, at Ted's Wrecking Yard, September 15. Tickets: $12. Attendance: 200. Rating: NNN