John Prine, Chris Smither | Durham Performing Arts Center | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week
This is a past event.

John Prine, Chris Smither 

When: Fri., Nov. 6, 8 p.m. 2015
Price: $49.50-$94.50

JOHN PRINE

FRIDAY, NOV. 6

DPAC, DURHAM—John Prine hasn't issued a new album in four years or a record of new material in a decade. But the album-tour cycle is for mere mortals, not for the patron saint of Americana singer-songwriters, a term Prine's long career predates. Prine is a treasure, and even if a battle with cancer roughed up his voice, he's worth your attention. When it comes to the "singer" part of his singer-songwriter duties, he was always closer to Kris Kristofferson than, say, James Taylor, anyway, even when he wasn't 69.

Though no guitar-wielding troubadour who emerged in the early '70s could ever be truly unaffected by the influence of Bob Dylan, Prine is—and has always been—an American original. He used concise country and folk structures to envelop a universe of ideas, overflowing with wit, compassion and plainspoken poetry. Along the way, he unintentionally ended up penning some standards. "Angel From Montgomery," from his debut, became one of Bonnie Raitt's early signature songs and has since been covered by countless singers. "Paradise" eventually turned into a country anthem, covered by everybody from Tom T. Hall to Dwight Yoakam. Hell, even Johnny Cash had a go at "Sam Stone," Prine's poignant tune about a heroin-addicted Vietnam vet.

For all the seriousness of some of his topics, it's important to remember that humor has always been a crucial element of Prine's work. He's never been above dropping a joke into a song: "Two men were standing on a bridge," he once sang. "One jumped and screamed 'You lose.'"

Don't expect Prine to trot out a new batch of songs; the ones he's already written are pretty damn tough to match. With Chris Smither. 8 p.m., $49.50–$94.50, 919-680-2787, 123 Vivian St., Durham, www.dpacnc.com. —Jim Allen

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