Whether he’s all by himself, or fronting Rockpile, Love Sculpture or his solo band, Dave Edmunds is a guitar player’s guitarist.
With more than three decades as a performer under his belt, the Welshman had no problems whatsoever as a solo act, accompanied only by a Gibson acoustic. As a master of the “Nashville style” of walking-bass/thumb-picked guitar playing that was more or less invented by Merle Travis and Ike Everly in the ’40s, Edmunds was essentially a one-man band when he played instrumentals; when he sang, he simply banged out the rhythms as if he were hammering on his trademark ES335.
Opening with his Elvis Costello-penned hit from 1979, “Girls Talk,” Edmunds immediately swung into his picking thing with a sweet version of Jerry Reed’s “The Claw” and proceeded to run the gamut of standard instrumentals, from “Sukiyaki” to Elton John’s “Your Song,” “Lady Madonna” and the twin warhorses of finger-picked flash, “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Classical Gas,” the latter a spoofy take. When he sang, he was half-Edmunds, half-Elvis, assaying “Mystery Train” and “Blue Moon of Kentucky” as well as his own hits “Queen of Hearts” and “I Hear You Knockin’.”
Referring to his stint in Rockpile as “my four-year version of ‘Lost Weekend,’ ” Edmunds hit the set’s highpoint on “I Knew the Bride.” He returned for an encore, a hilarious version of Love Sculpture’s “Sabre Dance,” accompanied by a cheesy MIDI track and, for the only time in his hour set, playing an electric guitar.
The fiftysomething rocker doesn’t look like he’s aged a whit since his version of Smiley Lewis’ “I Hear You Knockin'” was a hit 30 years ago — and his music sounds just as fresh, ragtimey renditions of standards from every era done with humor and style. One can only hope he’s still pickin’ and grinnin’ the same way for at least another 30.