Phil Cook’s Southland Revue: Are You Ready for the Jubilee?
Duke Gardens, Durham
Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A smaller crowd gathered for Tuesday’s portion of Phil Cook’s Southland Revue, but the evening sported a deeper, more electrifying spiritual current than Monday night’s (also wonderful) Trials, Troubles, Heartaches. Like the set before, the evening began with Cook taking the stage alone with an electric guitar. He offered one of his favorite gospel tunes, “Take Your Burden to the Lord and Leave it There,” and followed it with “Lowly Road,” a new Staples Singers-inspired track off his forthcoming Southland Mission.

Cook then invited The Branchettes, the gospel duo of pianist Wilbur Tharpe and Lena Mae Perry, onstage for a handful of gospel tunes. Cook took a back seat, filling in on vocals and allowing the bright Branchettes to shine.

Cook subsequently took on the role of one of Charlie Parr’s sidemen, too, taking a seat at the piano and only occasionally chiming in between Parr’s songs. Cook, Wallace and Gustafson all played on Parr’s latest LP, Stumpjumper; because Parr normally tours solo, this evening was a rare opportunity to hear his songs almost exactly as they appear on the record. Parr’s tunes all moved at a feverish clip, with “Stumpjumper,” “Over The Red Cedar” and “Falcon” arriving as exceptionally energetic installments.

The Branchettes returned to the stage for the evening’s final song, a moving and exuberant rendition of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” While Parr’s portion of the set was excellent, The Branchettes managed to stir something deeper within me. I’m a skeptical agnostic on a good day, but there was an inexplicable something about their music that allowed me to connect with the songs’ spirituality. I hadn’t expected to leave Tuesday night’s performance feeling so genuinely, generously shaken up.

The Southland Revue closes out tonight with Introducing Southland Mission, and Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath as the evening’s special guest. Tickets are available here.

Phil Cook, “Lowly Road”

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The Branchettes, “God Will Take Care of You”

YouTube video