Rosanne Cash honors her father’s legacy with Ry Cooder | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Rosanne Cash honors her father’s legacy with Ry Cooder

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From the mid-80s till the mid-90s, country music went through what Robbie Fulks calls an “integrity explosion.” As if to make up for the middle-of-the-road Urban Cowboy era directly preceding those years, a bunch of traditionalists and iconoclasts suddenly began coming through the door, including Marty Stuart, Steve Earle, and Dwight Yoakam. Even better, these artists got legit airplay, massively expanding their reach rather than remaining cult heroes left out in the cold. Rosanne Cash’s first recordings came out smack in the middle of the pop-country period that the Yoakams and the Earles were reacting against. Even so, albums such as 1979’s Right or Wrong and 1981’s Seven-Year Ache let the world know that this wasn’t another crossover singer trying to steal Crystal Gayle’s crown. And by the time country music decided to reclaim its “integrity” for a minute, Cash was right in the thick of it. She’s steeped in the old traditions, but she knows how to deftly blend in other genres when it’s called for: she’s one of a tiny group of country acts to record for the jazz-oriented Blue Note label, and the R&B flavor of “The Way We Make a Broken Heart,” from 1987’s King’s Record Shop, makes her sound as if she’s singing lead for the Drifters. Cash has spent the past few decades forging her own musical identity, but this Chicago Theatre show, where she’s playing in a duo with guitarist and roots maven Ry Cooder, spotlights material by her father, the legendary Johnny Cash. She previously touched on his legacy on her 2009 album, The List, a collection of covers drawn from a list of 100 essential country songs her dad made for her when she was 18, and here she’ll work from another list devoted solely to Johnny's music.   v

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