SXSW showcase reviews
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., March 27, 2009
Rosalie SorrelsVictorian Room at the Driskill, March 19
At 75, Rosalie Sorrels was among the more veteran performers at South by Southwest, yet as she reminded her audience, "Little old ladies are sometimes surprising." Sorrels performed only eight songs over 50 minutes but charmed the audience with tales of the artists she's met and worked with, mainly the late Utah Phillips, whose songs make up her latest, Grammy-nominated disc, Strangers in Another Country, as well as the work of poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, writer Ken Kesey, and folksingers Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Kate Wolf. The material was in the folk tradition, majestically standing apart from contemporary songwriter fare. "Don't call me a singer-songwriter, because that's not what I do really," Sorrels explained. She spoke of how she and Phillips were co-conspirators for nearly 50 years and how he was inspired by the story of Woody Guthrie's ashes being thrown to the winds of Coney Island for "Ashes on the Sea." Finishing on the bittersweet "My Last Go Round," which was uplifting despite its title, Sorrels was rewarded with a standing ovation, not as a living legend but for a performance that was as thoughtful and galvanizing as any during SXSW.