Saul Broudy at the Rudyard Kipling February 12

By Bill Ede

Saul Broudy's business card makes reference to the fact that he has a Ph.D., in Folklore. Now that's normally enough to frighten off all but the most dedicated lovers of folk music. But any image of stuffy audiences melts away when Broudy takes to the stage, as in his February 12 concert at the Rudyard Kipling.

Broudy is a very personal, likable performer, who appears able to find humor in all kinds of things, including himself. With the aid of voice, guitar and harmonica, he carries on the "songster" tradition most often associated with Nance Lipscomb, Tom Rush and others. (The songster, as much as perhaps any musical "player," knows his role. He is too keenly aware of the songs already out there to be worried about writing his own. His job is to keep already existing songs alive. Period. And he knows the degree to which this, in itself, is a full-time job. Once cognizant of this fact, he is free to assemble the "repertoire of repertoires.")

Broudy does not, on the other hand, approach folk music from a purist perspective, but includes the songs of contemporary songwriters like Utah Phillips ("Sometimes I Wish That I Could Be the Rain" and Steve Goodman "City of New Orleans"), as "well as songs he grew up listening to on the radio by artists like the Everly Brothers ("All I Have to Do Is Dream" and "Take A Message to Mary," later included on Bob Dylan's Self Portrait LP), Buddy Holly ("That'1l Be the Day") and the Fleetwoods ("Mr. Blue"), plus the doo wop music of his native Philadelphia, which could arguably be thought of as "Philadelphia folk music."

My all-tirne favorite Fats Domino song, "I'm Gonna Be A Wheel," appears on his 1977 recording, Travels With Broudy, along with one of the great overlooked Hank Williams' songs, "Alone and Forsaken" (which always made me wonder if Hank might have listened to Townes Van Zandt in a former life, strange as that may sound) and local singer-songwriter Mickey Clark's "Leavin' Love Behind," which gets a real funky treatment by Broudy and friends.

Clark and Broudy met in New York in the '70s and solidified their relationship through the years in Washington and Nashville and at 1977's Philadelphia Folk Festival, where they did some workshops together, including one called "North of Nashville, But Still Country," which also featured Philadelphia songwriter Jim Six, who struck me as a fine songwriter I might not ever hear again, which has thus far proven to be the case. (Does anyone have any information on Jim Six? I'd like to hear him at least once before I die.) Other songs Broudy included in his set were "Jambalaya" and the song from which it was derived, the title of which I didn't get, as well as the Jimmy Driftwood song "Damn Yankee," which I'll just have to seek out for future listening. Mickey Clark got up to perform one song only, Billy Joe Shaver's "I've Been to Georgia On A Fast Train" (a song Mickey was performing light years before anyone around here ever heard the Shaver original), before giving the stage back to Broudy, who closed with Townes Van Zandt's "No Lonesome Tune" and the aforementioned "City of New Orleans." The audience was a good one both in size and scope, especially considering the concert's short notice. "I hope Broudy will include Louisville in his plans for the future.