Brother Dave Gardner

Brother Dave Gardner in Person

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There are few (if any) comedians on par with "Brother" Dave Gardner. His countrified logic and fiercely Southern point of view became a huge hit in the late '50s and the 1960s, prompting several Top Ten long-players as well as numerous appearances on the talk and variety TV circuit. Gardner's preaching style of delivery is subversively coupled with his razor-sharp wit and equally well-honed double-entendres. By 1969 -- when this set was recorded at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts in Houston, TX -- Gardner's popularity had slightly derailed after a minor brush with the law earlier in the decade. Likewise, his embrace of the '60s counterculture would isolate much of his oddly conservative audience base. As evidenced by the spirited and manic-paced routines featured on Brother Dave Gardner in Person (1980) -- first issued as Out Front in the '70s -- the comedian hadn't altered his liberal ideologies in the least. If anything, the era allowed Gardner a sense of added freedom. Within minutes he references Alabama's then-Governor George Wallace as "our F├╝hrer," before commenting "if God ran [for president] I believe he'd only carry five states...and they'd all be in the South!" He cleverly speaks to the civil unrest throughout the country and the Vietnam War, proclaiming he is for minorities. While the two subjects might seem incongruous, Gardner clarifies his statement, saying "Why certainly I'm for them [sic] minorities...the armed forces and the police." Even after a minor marijuana mishap, he stayed keenly aware of the growing substance abuse epidemic, condemning hard narcotics and sternly admonishing that "the only thing left to do after that is to go play suicide." For enthusiasts familiar with his former work, Gardner revives the legendary "Motorcycle Story," while augmenting the tale with new twists and a freshness belying the fact that the routine is over a decade old. He brings a spark and spontaneity recalling the quick thinking and multi-strata humor of Lord Buckley. The album also throws in a musical number or two, including a chorus of "White Silver Sands," a tune Gardner took to the Top 20 back in 1957.