Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, and Guy Clark had a lot in common as revered Nashville singer/songwriters on the fringes of the country music industry, which made this gig at the famed Bluebird Café in Nashville, a benefit for the Interfaith Dental Clinic, an impressive lineup. Recorded September 13, 1995, it was an old-fashioned guitar pull, with each performer alternating as his fellows pitched in with a little guitar playing and encouragement. That's as much as they got together, however; there are no actual duos or trios on the disc. It does seem that Clark is singing along a little bit on Earle's "Mercenary Song," though, and an unidentified voice that sounds a lot like Emmylou Harris applies some harmony on Clark's "Immigrant Song" and Earle's "Copperhead Road." The performances are off the cuff to the point of being more like a casual get-together than an actual concert. Van Zandt, whose songs are the most depressing (and that's saying a lot), is the funniest, especially discussing his own dental needs in the light of losing a tooth in a dice game. He also goes up on the lyrics to "Pancho and Lefty," which doesn't keep it from being as amazing a song as ever. In fact, the songs just seem to get better and better as these three rough-hewn craftsmen demonstrate their remarkable abilities. Those who know their work will delight in hearing favorite songs in an intimate live setting; those who do not may be introduced to a world of great songwriting.
Together at the Bluebird Cafe Review
by William Ruhlmann