MUSIC NEWS
At the Zoo: Jerry Jeff Walker induces smiles and good-time, boozy sing-alongs
08/22/2010
from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune on startribune.com
Jerry Jeff Walker is Texas’ answer to  Jimmy Buffett.
He’s a balding man, with a whisp of wavey silver hair and an infectious smile, who sings plain-voiced, booze-spiked, feel-good, acoustic-guitar songs from another decade that still induce smiles, sing-alongs and salutes with whatever libation is in your hand.
Walker’s 90-minute performance Saturday night at the standing-room-only Minnesota Zoo was a flashback to the mid-1970s when Walker and His Lost Gonzo Band were regulars at the Whole Coffeehouse at the University of Minnesota. A proud lush in those days, Walker put on a Texas-style, cosmic-cowboy party with “Sangria Wine,” “London Homesick Blues” and “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother.”
Those songs, not surprisingly, were among the highlights of Saturday’s fun-fueled show.
Long sober, Walker, like Buffett, knows how to get the party started and keep it stirring – even if he moved around with the creaky posture of someone older than 68.
Amid all the party songs (sparked by South Dakota native Chris Gage’s versatile and twangy electric guitar), this vivid storyteller threw in a few love songs, including “One True Love.” He sang some of his own songs (including “Mr. Bojangles”) but reasserted that he is a great song picker (tunes by Guy Clark, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Willie and Waylon, among others) with a curiously jazzy/folk style of phrasing (reminiscent of Willie Nelson’s).
For a guy who grew up in upstate New York and cut his musical teeth playing folk music in Greenwich Village, Walker sure has come to embody the essence and ethos of Texas music. That’s what 40 years of living in Austin, Texas, will do for an observant, resourceful and spirited music-man.  




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