Carolyn Hester

A Tom Paxton Tribute

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Carolyn Hester (vocals/guitars) and Tom Paxton are the seminal artists who emerged from the early-'60s Greenwich Village/Washington Square Park scene. A 1995 European tour featuring the pair on a double-bill was the genesis of Hester's heartfelt Tom Paxton Tribute (1999), a collection of a dozen Paxton penned sides, including well-known favorites from his voluminous songbook and a few newer selections. She is ably accompanied by noted jazz multi-instrumentalist and arranger David Blume (bass/piano/keyboards), who also happens to be her husband. Hester is arguably best known for her musical association with the likes of Bob Dylan -- whose very first credited recording session can be found on her 1962 self-titled Columbia Records release -- and Richard FariƱa, to whom she was briefly married. However, it is the honesty and purity practically inherent in her lilting and straightforward delivery that would arguably become Hester's most endearing quality. As such, she is perfectly suited to Paxton's amicable lyrics, animating the opening "Peace Will Come" with a modern sensibility that recalls another Texas-born folkie, Nanci Griffith. In fact, direct parallels between the two can be heard throughout, especially in Hester's affective and expressive interpretations of "Last Thing on My Mind" and the winding and rural "Along the Verdigris." The mid-tempo "Come Away With Me" is among the tracks that Paxton has been woodshedding and is perhaps a sonic reference to their European excursion, as Blume's arrangement has a bit of a Gaelic edge. Other classic entries range from the lighthearted reading of "Bottle of Wine" to the more pensive "Ramblin' Boy" and insightful "Last Thing on My Mind." Enthusiasts will inevitably consider Tom Paxton Tribute a compulsory (if not essential) homage, the timelessness of both the material as well as performer make it recommended for inclined parties.

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