Two-time Grammy winner and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer Rodney Crowell is coming to St. Johnsbury to kick off the 10th anniversary KCP Presents Performing Arts Series, produced by Catamount Arts. Dubbed the “Godfather of Americana” by NPR’s Jewly Hight, Crowell will appear at St. Johnsbury Academy’s Fuller Hall on Friday, September 21, at 7pm.
Renowned as a country songwriter, producer, and artist, Crowell rose to fame in the 1980s as an influential figure in Nahsville’s new breed of country traditionalists. He worked with Emmylou Harris in her Hot Band, playing rhythm guitar and singing harmony and duet vocals, and wrote songs (like 1975’s “Blueberry Wine”) that launched her solo career.
In addition to writing songs for Harris, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Bob Seger, and Willie Nelson, among others, Crowell performed and collaborated with Roseanne Cash, Ry Cooder, and Jim Keltner. Songs from his prolific catalog have been performed by George Jones, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, the Oak Ridge Boys, Kris Kristofferson, Sheryl Crow, and Jewel, and have earned him an Americana Lifetime Achievement Award for songwriting.
Fifty years after Crowell first started playing as a teen in Houston garage bands, he still believes in the power of songs and the responsibility of singing them. "The interesting thing about that garage band back then is that we would go from ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ by the Beatles to ‘Honky Tonkin’’ by Hank Williams. In southeast Texas, those songs fit side by side.”
"Recently,” Crowell continues, “I think—I hope—that my study of the blues is starting to show up in my music. Those artists, whether it’s Lightnin’ Hopkins or John Lee Hooker or the acoustic Delta players, connected to something fundamental. With that in mind, I’m trying to move forward but also get back there."
Slant Magazine calls Crowell’s 2017 release “Close Ties” his “sharpest, strongest, funniest music in years—perhaps ever. A bounty of weathered emotion and hard-won wisdom.” He has since released “Acoustic Classics,” an album that reimagines four decades of Crowell’s work and includes hits from his 1988 release “Diamonds and Dirt,” which featured a record-breaking five number one singles on the Hot Country charts.
Tickets for Crowell’s September 21 appearance at Fuller Hall in St. Johnsbury are available online at www.kcppresents.org or by calling 802-748-2600. The KCP Presents Performing Arts Series is produced by Catamount Arts working in association with Kingdom Country Productions and is supported by generous local sponsors with grant funding from The National Endowment for the Arts and the Vermont Arts Council. For more information or to purchase season passes, visit www.kcppresents.org.