Tommy Prine headlined a sold-out acoustic solo show at the Wolf Hills Brewing Company in Abingdon last night.
The venue is a delightfully rustic space tucked away on the outskirts of town, in turn nestled in the southwest corner of Virginia. Sporting a range of cold beers, it has become the hot spot in town. The crowd spilled out into the courtyard, with some people looking out the windows.
Tommy Prine didn’t ignore the fact that his father is high in the pantheon of American songwriters. But Tommy bravely added his own voice to a solid set of original songs.
“Cash Carter Hill” was written as a fluke. A pal had been invited by the iconic duo’s son to stay in their empty house. The result was a songwriting explosion; it was clear that stardust was still in the air from the late Johnny and June.
Tommy also featured some songs that inevitably resulted from his father’s death a year ago. Reminiscing about playing music and spades with his father, he also lyrically questioned his belief in a higher being.
“Reach the Sun” is about a panic attack, resulting from a drastic change in touring plans.
Other songs reflected his recent engagement to a girl he felt made him a better guy.
If you weren’t aware of his genealogy, you probably wouldn’t link Tommy to his father. It’s ultimately a good thing, allowing Tommy to stand up for himself on his own merits.
Nonetheless, Tommy played his dad’s “The Late John Garfield Blues” asking “how the hell did that guy write that song?”
This is a question that many of us continue to ask.
Tommy pointed out that whenever he missed his dad, he could play one of his dad’s songs and have a little chat with him. It is a blessing shared by quite a few people.
I have separately watched Stephen and Damian Marley add their father’s immortal reggae classic to their sets.
Tommy closed the show with a song that brought tears to his grandfather’s eyes, forcing John’s father to leave the play when John first played it. He cut too close to the bone. “Paradise” tells the story of a homeland ecologically stripped by big business. It was perfectly poignant in this corner of the world.
Like the right moment, as Tommy finished his set as a lone freight train rumbled 20 yards away.
Local hero Adam Bolt opened with a superb set.