Freedy Johnston Packs the House in San Francisco
People who go to house concerts are pretty considerate.
âYou need a chair?â a thoughtful fan asked Freedy Johnston Thursday night, when the singer-songwriter took center livingroom in a San Francisco home once owned by former Giants great Orlando Cepeda.
âNo, Iâm just gonna stand up and move around a little bit,â Johnston replied. âI hope itâs not too unnerving.â
Then he picked up a battered 1969 Martin D-28 (âit came to me broken, like a rescue dog,â he told me after the show) and launched into a 21-song acoustic set that had him singing old tunes about complicated relationships (his â90s hit âEvieâs Tearsâ), new ones about spacemen (âThe First to Leave the World is the First to See the Worldâ), and amazing material heâs written with kindred spirits (âSweet SeĂ±orita,â from his 2012 album, The Hobart Brothers & Lil' Sis Hobart, with Jon Dee Graham and Susan Cowsill).
Johnston broke out a borrowed 12-string Taylor for a sad song about his divorce (âWhen the Love is Goneâ), and a borrowed ukulele for a delightful version of âLonely Penny,â from his 2010 album, Rain on the City.
Almost as engaging as Johnstonâs own songs were his stellar cover choices: Nick Loweâs âCruel to be Kindâ (which was âmade for ukulele!â), Jimmy Webbâs âWichita Linemenâ (complete with a story about Glen Campbellâs hit being an unfinished version of the song), the Replacementsâ âI Will Dareâ, Marshall Crenshawâs âSomeday, Somewayâ, and a snippet of Joan Jettâs âBad Reputationâ as a faux beginning to his own song of the same name.
âAm I doing OK?â he repeatedly asked the 40 or so people sitting on folding chairs and a pair of white couches.
He did just fine.