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Live at the Jester Lounge - Houston, Texas 1966


2015 repress. "This album, which may be the earliest extant recording of Townes Van Zandt at a commercial performing venue, immediately brings to mind the fabled Sun Sessions of Elvis Presley. Both recordings document young performers at the hopeful threshold of their professional music careers (Elvis age 19, Townes age 22). Their performances are fresh and unjaded, guided by instinct rather than experience or training. . . voices bursting with exhilaration at the simple thrill of letting loose and singing music they love. There is no self-consciousness, no overt stylization, no world-weariness here, and certainly no hint of the darkness and tragedy that would later consume the lives of both men. The Sun Sessions and Live at the Jester Lounge offer a fascinating portrait of two young singers on the brink of musical self-discovery, and it is a pleasure to share in the brilliance and wonder of those moments captured for posterity more by accident than design. The material on this CD is a prime example of the repertoire-influenced-by-context principle, in this case tunes that appealed to the good time-seeking, beer-drinking audiences Townes encountered at his club gigs during this period. There are topical humor pieces about sex, booze and pop culture ('Talkin' Birth Control Pill Blues', 'Talkin' Thunderbird Blues', 'Talkin' Karate Blues') and a wide range of light and dark bluesy numbers (jazzman Richard Jones' classic 'Trouble in Mind', Lightnin' Hopkins' 'Hello Central' and Townes' own 'Badly Mistreated Blues', 'Louisiana Girl Blues', 'Mustang Blues', 'Black Crow Blues'). Three country standards (Jimmie Rodgers' 'T for Texas', the Carter Family's 'Cannon Ball Blues', Hank Williams' 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry') round out the collection. Live at the Jester Lounge - Houston, Texas, 1966 shows a rarely-seen, unabashedly joyous side of a songwriter known mostly for his intense seriousness and uncompromising explorations of psychic angst. The essence of the mature artist Townes Van Zandt would become is here in all its natural, soon-to-blossom glory."