After years of session work and being Guy Clark’s sideman, Verlon Thompson is stepping out of the studio and into the spotlight. He’ll be playing a solo gig at Poor David’s Pub in Dallas Saturday, June 29.
“I’m traveling more now,” he said during a telephone call from the road, “and doing a lot of shows.”
The Oklahoma native took a break from touring last year when his parents’ health began to falter. They live on the family farm in Binger.
Thompson – who has written hits like “Bad Angel” (Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert and Jamey Johnson), “The Ballad of Stringbean and Estelle” and shared writing credit with Clark on “The Guitar” – has been doing some work with his wife, Nashville TV personality Demetria Kalodimos, on a couple of radio spots and some music for the State of Tennessee.
Coming up with new tunes is a piece of cake for Thompson. Lyrics, on the other hand, are more problematic.
“I can write music all day long,” he said with a laugh. “It doesn’t have to rhyme.”
Thompson’s also staying busy doing songwriting workshops, a job he loves, although it does give him nightmares.
“In the days leading up to a workshop, I worry about it,” he explained. “I don’t feel like a teacher. I’m a good facilitator. I can get them [the songwriters] to give it up even though they’re afraid. That’s the rewarding part of it.”
Saturday’s show will most likely include “The Guitar,” a song Thompson wrote with Clark at a songwriting clinic. The tune includes a fiery, fierce guitar solo that shows off Thompson’s mastery of the instrument.
When asked about it in 2011, Thompson said, “Well, I'm not sure how easy or difficult it looks, but that's a wonderful question because that particular moment is pivotal in the song.
“The person realizes his fingers are flying over the guitar neck ... never missing a lick ... and says, ‘It was like I always knew it but I don't know where I learned it ... so I just reared back and burned it.’
“So with the instrumental I try to convey the idea of suddenly being able to play with wild abandon and yet never missing a lick. It’s every guitar picker's dream.”
Doing solo shows has been a joy for Thompson.
“I get lost in it,” he answered. “It doesn’t matter to me if it’s one hour or two. I don’t even care if there’s a curfew at the venue. I get lost and just let it go.”
What Thompson tries to do with his set list is to take the audience on a journey – his journey – through songs. The songs tell how he grew up (“Caddo County” and “Back Up and Turn Around”), left home for a music career (“The Show We Call Business”), lived through a broken heart (“Don’t Take Me Back”) and finally found true love (“Mike and Betty’s Daughter”).
“It’s a cycle,” he noted. “The songs carry the threads of my story.”
Certain to be in the set list is “Joe Walker’s Mare,” a blazing bluegrass tribute about “a horse, loyalty and dedication and honor” that stops the show every time he performs it.
In a 2011 interview, Thompson said, “You’d be amazed how many times horse people come up to me and say they really ‘get’ that story. Especially the ladies. They get the loyalty part.”
Thompson has been the personification of loyalty. It’s who he is. And now, it’s time for him to fly solo. Can’t wait to watch him soar.
Verlon Thompson will be in concert Saturday at Poor David’s Pub, 1313 South Lamar, Dallas. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Opening act is Mark Wayne Glasmire. The show begins at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $16 and are available at www.frontgatetickets.com
Call 214-565-1295 for more information.
Click here for a clip of “The Guitar” or here for a clip of “Joe Walker’s Mare."
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