Photo | willkimbrough.com
Band: Jazz Fest Unplugged feat. Will Kimbrough with special guest Ross Newell
Date: Friday, August 20 at 8 p.m.
Venue: Grand Magnolia Ballroom, 3604 Magnolia St. (Pascagoula), www.grandmagmusic.com
Tickets: $50-$60 available through Freshtix
Many were heartbroken to learn the rescheduled October New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival had been canceled once again due to COVID concerns. However, the Grand Magnolia Ballroom just over the stateline in Mississippi plans on maintaining the spirit of this beloved festival with two artists with connections to both Jazz Fest and Mobile. Grand Magnolia’s “Jazz Fest Unplugged” will feature acoustic sets from Azalea City songwriters Will Kimbrough and Ross Newell.
In his early years, Kimbrough’s band Will & the Bushmen established his musical legacy beyond the city limits. Since then, Kimbrough has become a prolific songwriter. Pascagoula, which claims Jimmy Buffett along with us, recognizes Kimbrough’s talent for penning memorable songs. Buffett’s past seven albums (including his latest “Life on the Flip Side”) has included tracks written by Kimbrough.
As with many musicians, Kimbrough took advantage of his hours in lockdown. The singer-songwriter will be performing in support of his latest release “Spring Break.” This album warmly resonates with wave after wave of timeless, unsullied American songwriting.
Kimbrough’s combination of vocal, acoustic instruments and honest lyrics beg for these songs to remain in their original form. The album opener “My Sin Is Pride” joins “Work to Do” and “Child of Light” as uncomplicated tracks that shine with emotion. “The Late Great John Prine Blues” lyrically and musically conjures the vibrant spirit of the iconic songwriter.
“Spring Break” also reflects a tuneful lightheartedness through songs like “Rocket Fuel” and “My Right Wing Friend.” With 14 songs reflecting Kimbrough’s rock and Americana personas, “Spring Break” might be one of the best representations of Kimbrough’s songwriting to date.
The show’s opener Ross Newell spent decades at the forefront of the Azalea City music scene. Newell made his presence known through his time with the rock outfit Hamelin. Afterwards, Newell fronted the alt. folk outfit The Mulligan Brothers. Since embarking on a solo career, Newell used 2020 to start showcasing his post-Mulligan Brothers material.
The single “Hold the Door” serves as Newell’s first solo studio release. This track delivers a cheerful arrangement filled with Newell’s bright, tenor-leaden lyrics cushioned by subtle harmonies. Those wanting a healthy serving of Newell’s solo work should explore “Live from Eddie Owens Presents.”
Throughout this live release, Newell establishes his musical individuality beyond just lyrics and vocals. The singer-songwriter’s love for the guitar is reflected in intricate runs and rhythms. Listeners will also not want to miss his album-closing collaboration with The Krickets for “Sensible Shoes” and “Red Dress Lady.”
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