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Review: Otis Gibbs at The Vogue

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Otis Gibbs - SUBMITTED PHOTO

Otis Gibbs
The Vogue
Friday, June 15

An early show at the Vogue on a Saturday night in the summer is just about as good as it gets. Otis Gibbs is a hometown hero: born in Wanamaker, Indiana; he boasted of having worked at the Vogue: responsible for changing the marquee -- usually in the wee hours of the morning -- and seeing Johnny Cash perform there. Now he lives in East Nashville, Tennessee and tours with the likes of Billy Bragg.

Gibbs took the stage right around 7:30 p.m. and introduced himself. He's a good storyteller, within his songs and between them. He recalled the trials and hilarity that ensue when on tour in unfamiliar places like L.A., and Ireland. He started the night with crowd favorites, including "Caroline" among others from his album, "Grandpa Walked a Picketline."

It's fun to be in an audience that the performer has been looking forward to -- one that he considers home. He'll be overseas and playing in far off places for the next several nights, so he seemed to be savoring his time in Indiana. He switched to electric (and jokingly likened himself to Dylan), but that's when it seemed like the show really started. He gained a little energy: got a little more reaction. Eventually he switched back to acoustic, but by then it was like Gibbs and the audience were just hanging out in his living room. In fact, he ended the night without the PA and meandered through the club. His picking skills and his voice don't need much help. The comparisons to Springsteen, Earle, and Guthrie are accurate -- but there's a kindness, maybe even a loveliness about his songs that makes him even easier to listen to.

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