Jesse Winchester: north, south, song

We had the opportunity to chat with the legendary Jesse Winchester recently in an intimate backstage setting, after a pin-drop performance to a packed house.

Winchester’s long been known to baby-boomers as a songwriter’s songwriter, but his moving rendition of Shama-Ling-Dong-Ding on Spectacle is earning him a whole new audience through YouTube plays.

He talked about what it’s like to hit that magic moment onstage, as he did then in the company of his peers Neko Case, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow and Ron Sexsmith.

Jesse also shared candid and sometimes surprising thoughts on “folk” music, commercialism, and Canada.

Though he was practically the poster child for the American draft dodgers who made their home in Canada during the Vietnam era, Jesse Winchester now makes his home in the U.S. again.

He’s every inch the southern gentleman, but as he says in “Nothin’ but a Breeze,” (covered by the likes of Jimmy Buffett and John Denver):

“Me, I want to live with my feet in Dixie
And my head in the cool blue North”

We took Jesse at his word, and made sure he left our chat with a token of the high respect he’s earned here in the cool blue North.

Watch for it!

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  1. avatar
    schliggy 14 April, 2010 at 23:36

    Wow, lovely David.
    I played the hell out of him when I could count him as can-con (ya, I stretched it a bit)
    on my country show in the seventies. I loved Brand New Tennessee Waltz, Let the Rough
    Side Drag and Rhumba Man. But the big star in my firmament was Isn’t That So: “You’ve
    got to go where your heart says go, isn’t that so…”.
    So nice to see him again. And you, too, for that matter.


  2. avatar
    David Woodhead 15 April, 2010 at 15:59

    What was the gift at the end? Couldn’t quite make it out. I sang “Isn’t That So” many times too, and it’s an easy song for the band to learn on the spot. Saw Bruce Miller doing it years ago and copped his lick and adapted it to the bass, more major than Jesse’s minor groove.

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