Once upon a time, singers and songwriters told stories. Back before Bob Dylan plugged in, "folk" music was just that music about folks, some stemming from oral traditions, others steeped in a performer's personal stories. That was before the "confessional" folk of people like Ani DiFranco took hold and all the characters in the songs became "me" or "you." Gilbert real estate agent Ty Lusk takes the old-school folk approach on Live at Club Red, getting onstage with just a guitar and singing songs about his job ("I'm a Realtor"), sitting in a Mexican jail ("Mexican Jail Cell"), the divergent life paths he and his brother took ("Biggest Fan"), overcoming physical disabilities ("Little Harelip Boy"), and giving a nod to Tucson musician Roger Clyne ("Rocky Point"). Lusk's gravelly voice narrates these stories like a campfire crooner, but he's also got a sharp sense of humor, singing lines like "You can pull up a chair, you can pull up my face" in "Nymphomaniac" and turning Prince's "Purple Rain" into a sparkling, stripped-down ballad that would be funny if it wasn't such an earnest rendering with a stunning electric guitar solo sailing in after the last chorus. Lusk also braves a Robert Earl Keen song ("Road Goes On Forever"), but his originals are equally endearing. Live at Club Red won't make up for every folk singer who decided they weren't gonna work at Maggie's Farm no more, but it will give folks a reason to rock without wondering who screwed over the singer.
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