Dan Penn | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Dan Penn 

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One of the greatest songwriters the south ever produced, Dan Penn has racked up hits for the likes of James Carr ("The Dark End of the Street"), James & Bobby Purify ("I'm Your Puppet"), and Aretha Franklin ("Do Right Woman, Do Right Man"), among many others. His knack for elegant melodies and poetic, concise lyrics helped make him a key figure in the Memphis country-soul scene during the 60s and early 70s, but he's only intermittently made albums on his own. That's a shame given wonderful records like Moments From the Theatre (Proper American), a collection of live duets with songwriting partner Spooner Oldham that came out in England in 1999 and was recently reissued here. Penn doesn't try to compete with some of the greatest voices in history, but his performances are nothing to sneeze at: his vocals are calm and conversational, with nuanced tremors and dips that reveal an intimacy with the material that's sometimes rare in nonperforming songwriters. Greg Trooper, whose latest album, Make It Through This World (Sugar Hill), was produced by Penn, opens. See the Meter, page 5, for more on Penn. Sun 11/20, 7 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $20, $16 seniors and kids. All ages.

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