About two years ago I reviewed ,for this very magazine, a superb album by singer-songwriter Tim Grimm called "The Turning Point" [the review can be found at www.fatea-records.co.uk/magazine/2013/TimGrimm.html]. I was ,therefore, delighted to learn that Tim and his musical/life partner Jan Lucas-Grimm were touring the UK in September 2015 ,especially as they would be playing just up the road in Formby ,in the intimate and congenial surroundings of the Café D'Art.
Tim has had a most interesting and unusual career. He grew up in rural southern Indiana and took up songwriting . However, he gave that up and moved to Los Angeles where he had a successful career as a Hollywood actor , starring in two seasons of the NBC drama "Reasonable Doubts" and also alongside Harrison Ford in the movie "Clear and Present Danger". Another change of direction led to Tim returning home to Indiana where he and Jan have an 80-acre farm . As well as becoming a farmer ,Tim returned to songwriting and performing music ,with Jan ,who sings and plays harmonica.
Many of Tim's songs reflect his and Jan's rural lifestyle. Tonight's opening song, "The Lake" tells how they created a lake on their land and ,maintaining the link with Hollywood, the song appears on the soundtrack of the movie "A Walk In The Woods" ,which is based on the Bill Bryson book and which stars Robert Redford and Nick Nolte.
Continuing the rural theme, Tim's song "80 Acres" tells the history of the farm as set out in the title deeds and the common bond between those who have known and worked the land.
Tim and Jan are also fascinated by the myths and legends of the Ohio Valley frontier ,based on the writings of Scott Russell Sanders and in 2011 Tim released an album "Wilderness Songs and Bad Man Ballads" based on these stories. From that excellent album we had "Squaw",the tale of an injured hunter who is rescued by a Native American woman and also the haunting "Cover These Bones", which is based on speeches by leader of the Shawnee ,Tecumseh [and which has been covered by Eric Taylor].
Tim told us of his friendship with two of the key figures in American folk music, Ramblin'Jack Elliott and Tom Paxton. He first met Ramblin' Jack thirty years ago and his stirring tribute to "the last of the Brooklyn Cowboys" called "King of the Folksingers" appeared on "The Turning Point" and tonight we had a great live version.Tim has twice toured with Ramblin' Jack and sang for us the traditional "Sowin' On The Mountain", which he learned from Ramblin'Jack and which also appears on Tim's "Heart Land" album.
Tim has released an album of Tom Paxton songs called "Thank You Tom Paxton" and from it he and Jan sang "The Last Thing On My Mind" which had the audience singing along in good style.
Tim's business card describes him as "singer-songwriter;actor ;tour leader". Tour leader? Well ,it appears that the multi-tasking Tim conducts musical tours in Ireland and from that experience he has written a new song "The Hungry Grass" about the Great Famine and how one survivor "came back from the dead".
One of my favourite songs on "The Turning Point" is Tim's beautiful and touching tribute to Anne Frank ,"Anne In Amsterdam" , and with lines like "Walking through your house today your spirit's shining through" it never fails to move me.
On a [much] lighter note was "Blame It On The Dog" ,a co-write between Tim and Jan in which the poor dog which Jan brought home gets the blame for all manner of domestic disasters which are in no way its fault.Another song that the couple co-wrote is "I Don't Mind" ,which featured a lovely harmonica solo from Jan. On "The Turning Point" this song features a great solo from John Prine's regular guitarist Jason Wilber.
Talking of John Prine, Tim and Jan have appeared in a show consisting entirely of John's songs called "Pure Prine" ,so it seemed appropriate that their encore tonight should be one of the classic songs from that show, "Spanish Pipedream".
And so ended an evening of superb music which confirmed my belief that Tim Grimm is one of America's premier songwriters .If you doubt this, just listen to "The Turning Point".
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