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State Of Heartbreak From Gosdin

April 23, 1986|STEVE POND

Vern Gosdin has a string of country hits covering almost two decades, and his songs have been recorded by the Byrds and George Jones, and he's sung with Ernest Tubb and Emmylou Harris.

But all of this wasn't quite enough to fill the Palomino on Monday night. Aside from a few purists, it seems, most people might remember Gosdin only as the guy at Farm Aid whose set had to be repeated when Sammy Hagar's foul mouth got the live broadcastknocked off the air.

But Gosdin deserves more than that kind of fame. His Palomino show--his first appearance there in more than a decade, though he was a regular at the club in his bluegrass days--was quiet and unassuming and, above all, solid: smooth, subtly emotional vocals and a crack bluegrass-tinged country band and a batch of good songs.

Gosdin's songs inhabit that traditional country territory where relationships never last but painful memories never fade. A lot of songwriters have left their tears in that beer, but a singer like Gosdin can work wonders. His phrasing is straightforward and matter-of-fact, but the lovesick blues seep from the tones of a husky, deep voice that always seems on the verge of cracking.

His unassuming, occasionally bland manner made for a rather laconic evening, though Gosdin's band fired things up for a few bluegrass rave-ups and some fast-paced gospel tunes (his latest record is a gospel album).

But you don't go to Gosdin for trendiness or vocal fireworks: You go for state-of-the-heartbreak tunes like "Hangin' On" and "If You're Gonna Do Me Wrong (Do It Right)," and for a voice that can do them justice.

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