Concert Review: Julie Roberts

The last time Julie Roberts played in Annapolis (July 2013) she gave her fans a tasty sampling of her soon-to-be-released and critical lauded album Good Wine & Bad Decisions. The album, which also has the distinction of being the first full release on the legendary Sun Records label in decades, is soulful, sweet and playful, just like Roberts herself.

Her return to the Ram’s Head On Stage on August 26th was immediately embraced by her ever-loyal fans (and friends) who came out on a “school night” to see her perform. She was clearly touched by the show of support, but I’d say that this concert could’ve been held at 2 pm on a Wednesday and those same people would have gladly called in sick to work to be there.

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Joined onstage by her longtime collaborator Jason Collum (cajon and guitar) and new guitarist Andrew, the trio played a fantastic career spanning set (mostly leaning on her self-titled debut and Good Wine) two-hour set which kicked off with pair of scorching soulful southern rockers, “If I Were You” and “You Ain’t Down Home.”

Relationships, good and bad, were covered in the next handful of songs. “If I’ve lived this, other people probably had too,” was Julie’s explanation for writing the regret-filled, yet accepting, late-night hook-up song “Good Wine & Bad Decisions.” The booty shakin’ Buddy and Julie Miller penned “Gasoline and Matches” had heads bobbing throughout the venue and showcased Julie’s soulful voice. The coping, while getting over a past love, “Wake Up Older” with its climatic verse “So I found me a stranger, with his comforting danger, but I thought about you the whole time, we were gettin’ it on,” brought chills as her booming voice soared at the end of the verse. Julie then lightened the mood with the frisky “Just ‘Cause We Can,” a song about sneaking away with that special someone.

Julie explained how she grew up on classic country and put her money where her mouth was with four well-chosen covers: Don Williams’ “Lord I Hope It’s A Good Day,” a sultry version of Bobbie Gentry’s “He Made A Woman Out Of Me” a soulful stomper which appears on Good Wine, Merle Haggard’s “Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down” and Hank Cochran’s “This Ain’t My First Rodeo,” a song she recently performed with good friend Jamey Johnson.

Before singing a gorgeous version of “Rain On A Tin Roof” from her debut album, Julie lamented that the song never was released as a single (not her decision), as it was a personal favorite of hers. She told the crowd that she’s thought of re-recording it and releasing it as a single, for which I say, “YES, PLEASE!”

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Julie has a wonderful way of engaging her audience with her stories, infectious laugh and personal interactions with members in the crowd. And even if you’ve already heard her tell the story about “Old Habit,” a song on Good Wine about her Mama (a frequent story subject) and a gentleman “friend” who used to only call her on Saturday night, you still laugh along with her, because it’s impossible not to.

Perhaps two of the finest moments of the night came with two of her most beloved songs, the title track from her second album Men and Mascara and her biggest single and show closer “Break Down Here,” which after all these years still thrills me to hear whether live, on record or when I see the video on CMT Pure (which is actually quite often to my delight).

Julie Roberts has faced many challenges in recent years. Ups and downs with a fickle music industry where if you don’t chart, you “don’t matter” and subsequently get dropped by your record label. She lost her home in the Nashville flood of 2010 and then shortly after was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (which has now thrust her into a role as an advocate/speaker for MS fundraisers). Through it all, she remains positive due to her faith, family, friends and fans. She’s a fighter who’s worth fighting for.

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Author: Country Cadre

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