concert reviews

Eliza Gilkyson at Jammin' Java, Vienna, VA, Tuesday 20 July 2004

Two Texas flags were duct-taped to the wall behind the stage at Jammin' Java on Tuesday night as Eliza Gilkyson took the stage as part of the "Texas to a T" concert series. Although her music wasn't boot-stompin' Texas twang, she did deliver some Southern hospitality, indulging quite a few requests, including "Green Fields," a song penned by her father, guitarist Terry Gilkyson.

She was joined by guitarist Mike Hardwick and her son, drummer Cisco Ryder, who helped his mom out singing backing vocals. Her serene voice was augmented by a few vocal trills and a hint of vibrato to fill out the simple arrangements.

Upbeat and full of humor, Gilkyson's two-hour set didn't drag. She divulged that "Richmond Boy" was written about a man she was dating at the time and hypothesized that the relationship went sour because of her perfect impersonation of his mother. After the laughter died down, Gilkyson played the tender ballad listing all his endearing qualities ("He don't emotionally swing, he notices the little things"). At its conclusion, she segued into the post-breakup version, in which she offered her own director's commentary ("He hasn't got an original thought") between lines to reflect her newfound cynicism about the relationship.

Gilkyson did play a few politically charged numbers, such as her recent "Hiway 9," but she kept the mood light and her anti-Bush monologues to a minimum. To close out her set, she led the audience in a singalong to "Peace Call," an antiwar song by Woodie Guthrie that she discovered in an out-of-print songbook.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 22 July 2004
.: Selected discography: Land of Milk and Honey (Eliza Gilkyson, 2004); Lost and Found (Eliza Gilkyson, 2002).