Few people are able to tell riveting stories, much less turn them into songs that become award-winning and Grammy-nominated hits. But singer songwriter Vernon Thompson can do both, as well as some amazing guitar picking. So it's no surprise that a full house turned out to hear the troubadour and to support CASA at the organization's 6th Annual Red Shoes, BBQ & Bluegrass event last Saturday.
Dr. Bob Thompson, Red Shoes event supporter and member of the Annual Bluegrass Band (which opened the evening's festivities) speaks highly of him: "Verlon played the first Red Shoe five years ago and was such a hit that we had him come back the following year. Songwriter, terrific guitarist and, above all, gifted entertainer and wonderful human being.
Verlon was the longtime performance partner and collaborator with Guy Clark. He is married to Demetria Kalodimos (anchorperson for WSMV-TV, Nashville), and they collaborate on film projects as well. I have seen him many times and have never seen anyone hook an audience quite like he can."
You can see just how well Thompson can hook an audience in the video clips below from Saturday night.
In the first video, "Sweet Dreams," he describes how his father met his mother and performs the song he wrote about that portentous night when his Native American mother danced around the fire. You WILL want to listen to this beautiful ballad.
As explained at the tail end of the above video, Thompson recounts the time he told his longtime music associate Guy Clark that he had run out of ideas for songs. Clark replied, "Verlon, write a song about your mother. Everyone knows you won't get into heaven if you don't write a song about your mama." And so he wrote "Darwettia's Mandolin," a song about his mama, ensuring his place in heaven, no doubt. Video is below, with some fine guitar picking.
As Verlon Thompson concluded his evening of autobiographical storytelling, singing and strumming, he welcomed the Annual Bluegrass Band back to the stage for a grand finale performance. The Annual Bluegrass Band was formed by local doctor Bob Thompson and dentist David Foster, and includes Matt Combs on fiddle, Beth Lawrence on bass, Steve Huber on banjo, and Andy Todd on guitar. Unfortunately, my camera battery was dying by this point, so I wasn't able videotape the performance. Most fortunate, however, was a thoroughly entertaining evening for the patrons, CASA, the bands and me.
As David Scram of the Raleigh Indy Weekly put it, "Thompson ranks as perhaps the most well-rounded yet overlooked instrumentalist and songwriter beneath the large Americana umbrella. Catch him out front, where he belongs."