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Letters 07-25-2016

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Home · Articles · News · Music · Jesse Winchester 4/4/11
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Jesse Winchester 4/4/11

Kristi Kates - April 4th, 2011
Jesse Winchester: 40 Years of Songs
By Kristi Kates
 When asked what the audience can look forward to at his upcoming City
Opera House show in Traverse City, singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester is
either the humblest of performers, or merely the soul of brevity.
“(It’ll be) me, playing my guitar and singing. Doesn’t sound like much,
does it?” he says.
But his vocals and guitar are precisely what people show up to hear.
He started getting recognition for his distinctive style around 1968; by
1970, his recordings were getting recognized, as were those of some of his
songs by several of his famous peers.
Winchester’s 40 years’ worth of songs have been reinterpreted, revamped,
and re-recorded by a number of names you’re sure to recognize, including
the likes of Elvis Costello, Jimmy Buffett, Reba McEntire, Patti Page, and
Joan Baez.
He’s known for capturing detailed stories and character/situation studies
in his songs, from “Biloxi” to “Yankee Lady,” “Brand New Tennessee Waltz”
to “Payday.” His homage to pot, “Twigs and Seeds” was a cult hit with
folkies in the mid-’70s, as was “Songbird,” covered by Emmy Lou Harris.
Winchester’s own favorite picks among covers of his songs are delivered
concisely.
“I like Wilson Pickett’s version of “Isn’t That So?” and Ed Bruce’s
version of “Evil Angel,” he declares.
 
BACK IN THE U.S.A.
Born in Louisiana, raised in Mississippi and Tennessee, and finding
himself in college in Massachusetts (he graduated in the late ‘60s),
Winchester famously resisted the draft during the Vietnam War by moving to
Canada. He joined a local band in his new homeland of Quebec, started
writing songs that he’d perform as a solo artist, and began recording in
1970 with his eponymous debut album. He became a Canadian citizen in 1973.
Would he have made the the same choice today, under the current president,
to avoid the draft?
“I don’t know,” he demurs, “but whatever government is in place doesn’t
have much to do with it. I moved to Canada because I did not believe in
the war in Vietnam.”
Winchester’s career was affected by his choice, to some degree. As he
wasn’t able to tour in the United States until amnesty had been given to
draft resisters in the late ‘70s. He became known more for his songwriting
than for his performing, hence his songs being discovered and recorded by
other artists.
Now living in the U.S. once again, Winchester - a resident of Virginia -
has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from ASCAP (The American Society
of Composers, Artists, and Publishers), and released a brand new album
called Love Filling Station in 2009, a set seasoned with bluegrass,
country, and folk influences, nine new originals and three covers in all.
Today, he’s continuing to write and perform, which he says he’ll be
focusing on for this spring, summer, and beyond.
“I’m writing another record between shows,” he says, “that’s pretty much
my plan for spring and summer. Fall and winter, too.”

Jesse Winchester (with special guest NEeMA) will be appearing at the City
Opera House on Saturday, April 9 at 8 p.m. Tickets $25/$15 at
cityoperahouse.org, or by telephoning 231-941-8082.


 
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