By Ken Paulson
Bobby Bare Jr. knew this wasn’t going to be a fair fight.
“He’s playing nothing but hits and I ain’t got no hits,” he said in mock exasperation, recalling the first time he shared the stage with his father Bobby Bare at the Bluebird Cafe.
Two generations of Bares at the City Winery in Nashville
Nonetheless, he agreed to the double bill a second time for a show Friday night at the City Winery in Nashville. Once again, the elder Bare showed no mercy, beginning the evening with his classic “Detroit City” and then playing close to a dozen country hits over the course of the evening.
Bare Jr. was clearly delighted to team up with his dad, serving up his own unconventional tunes in counterpoint. Irreverence and a deep love of music clearly run through their shared DNA. Bare Jr. played a number of songs from his new album Undefeated, including “My Baby Took My Baby Away,” written with Hayes Carll.
“I don’t understand how I lost you to this little man” who has “itty bitty boots and a big fat face,” he sang, detailing the impact of a new child on a couple’s relationship. Somehow it’s a sweet song.
Decidedly less endearing was “The Big Time,” a funny fantasy about becoming such a big success you can kiss your current friends goodbye. “I want to go bowling with Sheryl Crow,” he explained.
Bobby Bare had his own goofy moments during the anatomy lesson that is Shel Silverstein’s “The Mermaid.” Bare may be Silverstein’s very best interpreter.
Bare Jr. had his own song about love gone bad. Before performing “Don’t Go to Chattanooga,” he recalled losing the girl from Manchester, TN who inspired the song. If she had only foreseen Bonnaroo coming to her hometown and his eventual performance there, she would never have left him, he said.
For his part, Bobby Bare just kept performing the hits, including “Streets of Baltimore,” “Four Strong Winds,” “Margie’s at the Lincoln Park Inn,” The Winner,” “That’d How I Got to Memphis” and even “Dropkick Me Jesus,” written by Paul Craft, who passed away weeks ago.
The Bares closed this memorable pairing with “Marie Laveau,” teaming up on the song’s bloodcurdling screams.
The audience would’ve stuck around for multiple encores but the younger Bare explained that wasn’t possible.
Dad “goes to bed at 7:30 and it took three naps” to get him this far, he said.
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