Irene and I saw Jesse Winchester at the Cactus Cafe on campus yesterday, where apparently he has been a regular for quite a few years. His voice was a bit shot, but he managed an absolutely great, deeply moving and delightful show.
Jesse opened with a song about Memphis, his home town. It was funny and catchy.
This is not the first time I've seen the man. I saw him when he was a young draft dodger in Montreal. It must have been 1970. SI believe it he was the first musician I ever saw, if you don't count marching bands and a Sly and the Family Stone stadium concert at the Forum.
Somehow someone liberated the locker room at LCC one evening. I rather doubt the then non-coeducational school's administration encouraged us showing up in the evening, out of uniform, with girlfriends (a couple, anyway) to listen to a folksinger, never mind a freaking draft dodger. Who had the chutzpah to sneak Jesse Winchester into our locker room?
Jesse wowed us back then. I'm pretty sure he had one or the other or both of "Yankee Lady" or "Tennessee Waltz" already. Mostly I remember us swaying and singing along and having the kind of fine old dixie hootenanny time that young upstanding Canadian boys are not expected to have.
Jesse wowed us last night as well. We had a fine old time, but Texans, whatever our flaws, find clapping and hollering perfectly natural. A great time was had by all, but it was a special event for me. I cornered Jesse after the show, but he didn't remember the earlier event, though it must have been one of his very first gigs ever.
Who organized the locker room show? And how? I suspect it was my classmate Danny Feist, who I'm shocked to discover has passed on.
Anyway I was deeply moved both times, but I still have something of a mystery on my hands. Maybe one of my other classmates will clue me in on the mysterious locker room performance someday.
Jesse closed with what he called a Montreal song. It was melancholy and haunting.