Matraca Berg & Tim Krekel

By Paul Moffett

Matraca Berg has written a string of country hits which, were she the recording artist, would have put her in Freedom Hall before thousands rather than in the intimate confines of the Rudyard Kipling, playing for a crowd of tens.

Sad for Matraca, good for fans of fine songwriting.

Berg and Louisvillian Tim Krekel were practicing a set for a showcase that they were planning to present in Nashville the following Tuesday. Performing with them was bassist Dave Jacques, who kept them moving forward and in tune when their casual attitudes threatened to bring the show to a halt.

The trio opened with a Mississippi John Hurt tune, then moved swiftly to "Things You Left Undone," from Berg's first RCA album. She then performed Dolly Parton's "Jolene" with what she described as a "David Lynch treatment."

They followed that with a tune that Krekel and Berg had collaborated on, "You Can Feel Bad If It Makes You Feel Better." Listen for it on your local "Hot Country/Playing All the Hits" radio station. Solid country groove and a great hook.

There followed a string of Berg's tunes, including what she called her "dumbest country song," "Back in the Saddle," and her best love song, "Here Under the Rainbow." With a couple of albums of her own to draw from , it was a while before she got to the "hits."

Ah, those hits. Every songwriter should be so fortunate to be able to close a set with this string: "Wrong Side of Memphis," cut by Trisha Yearwood; "Cinderella," recorded by Suzy Bogguss; "XXXs and OOOs (An American Girl)," a hit for Yearwood; and "I'm That Kind of Girl," a smash for Patti Loveless.

It was a short, but satisfying Thursday night show, repeated the following night. Make a note to catch Berg and Krekel next time, maybe at Freedom Hall.