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Solace – Xavier Rudd

I go to a lot of shows. In fact, I'd say I average about a show a week. Averages aside, it wouldn't be unheard of if I caught three, or four shows in a week, but that's more rare.

ANYWAY, I’ve seen many, many shows over the years, by many, many bands. But I’ll never forget the time I caught Xavier Rudd.

This was last year, before he had played Bonnaroo or toured with Gov't Mule. To tell you the truth, I had never even heard of the guy. I only went because my friends were going. And they were only going because my roommate wouldn't shut up about some dude who played didgeridoo and lap steel guitar at the same time.

I went in with no expectations. And, lo and behold, it was one of those nights. The "venue" was perfect (it was actually a town hall), the acoustics were great, the lights were dimmed, the audience was quiet and the music took over. Rudd and his mop of blond hair came out sans any backup and dropped all of our jaws, just the two of them, without rocking or rolling. The volume, in fact, never rose above a whisper.

And it never needed to. There was little or no chatting in the seated crowd, and no hootin' or hollerin' to speak of, so we were able to hear every slide guitar run, every djembe spank, every stomp on the floor and all his didj work.

And every breathy, soulful vocal. Rudd's voice is so calming, he could talk down a tornado. I would probably pay to listen to him talk quantum physics.

But Universal hasn't released that disc yet, so you and I will have to settle for Solace, recently released in the U.S. (the album is already platinum in Rudd’s native Australia). It’s a collection of the didj dude’s folky, singer-songwriter tunes, a few instrumentals and a fun cover of "No Woman No Cry."

And if you haven't figured out what Rudd's all about by this point in my article, standout tracks like "Let Me Be," "Shelter" and "Solace" will tell you all you need to know. Those songs are slow, funky unplugged folk joints about love and being kind to your fellow man. And that says a lot.

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