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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Palomino Offers Slice of Kerrville Festival

The annual Kerrville Texas Folk Festival, now in its 18th year, has a reputation as a place to find new talent--an image boosted by the recent success of Michelle Shocked, who was “discovered” there in 1986.

But much of the show Saturday at the Palomino packaging a dozen Kerrville regulars showed that Kerrville’s old talent shouldn’t be overlooked. With each act taking the stage for three songs, the presentation virtually outlined the history of contemporary American folk music with a casual warmth and comfortable homeyness.

Hamilton Camp and Carolyn Hester--two of many Los Angeles-based performers on the show--each provided a link to the early-'60s folk boom with personable sets that linked their pasts to the present.

A second generation was also well-represented, with Lucinda Williams (an L.A. club regular now, but a Kerrville performer as far back as 1974) and Texan Butch Hancock standing out. Williams worked in the country and blues branches of American folk with power and confidence, while Hancock--best known for songs recorded by Joe Ely--shone as the evening’s top wordsmith.

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Appropriately, the outstanding set came from a relative newcomer, Boston-based Patty Larkin. With a commanding voice, accomplished songwriting touch and well-timed wit, Larkin (though not exactly a rookie) barely eclipsed young rock- and country-influenced Texas folkie David Halley as the evening’s find.

Rod Kennedy, Kerrville executive director, announced during Saturday’s show that he hopes to establish a three-day Kerrville-style songwriters’ festival in Los Angeles next year. This year’s Texas festival will be held from May 25 to June 11.


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