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Meridian Rising

Paul Burch

Plowboy Records 2016

Review by David Bowling

 

Paul Burch has been producing modern day roots music for several decades. He has now, for his tenth release, traveled in a very different and creative direction.

He has assumed the persona of legendary musician Jimmie Rodgers and created a musical autobiography of his life. The twenty tracks are a history of Rodgers life as told and sung by Burch. I don’t know if he is the first artist to create a thematic album of this type, but he has put together a tremendously original one.

Through Burch’s melodies and words, one is able to experience and imagine the life of Rodgers; from his childhood in Meridian, Mississippi, to his death in the Taft Hotel in New York City in 1933 at the age of 35.

Rodgers recording life was very short due to the effects of tuberculosis but he made the most of his time. He approached the trails and tribulations of everyday life from a different perspective than the bluesmen of the day. He moved country music out of the smoke filled southern honky tonks toward the mainstream. Burch captures the flavor of that journey though such songs as “Poor Don’t Vote,” “Sign Of Distress,” “Ain’t That Water Lucky,” “Fast Fuse Blues,” “Sorry I Can’t Stay,” and the album ending “Oh, Didn’t He Ramble.”

The music is good and the concept excellent. Rogers is one of the more honored American musicians of the 20th century. A member of both the Country and Rock And Roll Hall Of Fames; his songs have been covered thousand of times and dozens of the elite artists in country music have issued tribute albums but none like Meridian Rising.

Rating: ***1/2

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