Rosie Flores. At the Maverick Saloon, Wednesday, September 27.
Reviewed by Brett Leigh Dicks
As Greg Leisz’s mandolin shimmered in beauty, it reflected the torrent that surged from Rosie Flores’s acoustic guitar. Flores introduced “God May Forgive You (But I Won’t)” as the greatest divorce song ever written, and by the time she had toured through the song’s first verse and chorus, the crowd was in total agreement.
In a performance that brimmed with highlights, one of the most striking was Flores’s remarkable sense of song. From the unrelenting declaration of “God May Forgive You” to the haunting beauty of Butch Hancock’s “Boxcars,” Flores typically explored the more eccentric side of country music’s compositional palette. This claim was further staked by renditions of both Johnny Cash’s “Country Boy” and Buck Owens’s “Hot Dog,” though it wasn’t just from the roots of traditional country that Flores’s set sprouted, as a rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Lucky Town” sublimely attested to. And when she followed that song with a rousing version of Merle Haggard’s “My Old Kind of Hat,” even those who were leaning nonchalantly against the walls at the back of the saloon were nodding in accord.
Lurking within Flores’s deceptively casual approach is an immense musical talent. But her talent isn’t just confined to seamlessly marrying a selection of her own sparkling songs with classic contemporaries, for sitting beside Flores was Leisz — one of roots music’s finest string instrumentalists. Leisz’s playing was nothing short of awe-inspiring, but Flores was more than up to the instrumental challenge thrown down by her revered companion. Flores engagingly picked and plucked her way across the course of the evening with style, grace, and bravado. And as “Truck Driver Blues” neared its conclusion and the guitars blazed away, the duo traded the instrumental limelight, while the audience clapped and stomped their appreciation. Be it the songs, the music, or the legend that attracted people to this installment of Tales From The Tavern, no one made a quiet exit.