Valdosta Daily Times

September 13, 2013

Songwriter plays Valdosta Friday night

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Songwriter/musician Jeff Black knows the beauty of hearing a legend sing his words.

“I’m just so beside myself whenever that happens,” Black says of stars singing his songs. “It’s pretty humbling especially when Waylon Jennings recorded ‘Carnival Song.’”

In addition to the late Waylon Jennings, Black’s songs have also been recorded by Alison Krauss, Sam Bush, Blackhawk, Jerry Douglas and Dierks Bentley. He understands how audiences come to think of the singer as the songwriter. Black is not really bothered when someone thinks one of his songs belongs to the more famous person who recorded it, though he’s happy to live in the age of Internet commentary.

“One good thing about the Internet is there are so many versions of every song,” Black says. If someone hears the famous version and comments, someone else will invariably comment, you ought to hear the songwriter’s version.

Tonight, audiences can hear Jeff Black’s versions of his songs as he plays acoustic sets at Ashley Street Station.

Traveling, Black is simply a man, his songs and a guitar, in a show, he describes, as “no shocks and no surprises.” The largest surprise often comes when he plays a song, which new audiences recognize and realize they know Jeff Black’s music after all. This happens most often when he plays “Same Ol’ River,” which Black penned but Sam Bush made famous.

While he enjoys other people singing his songs, Black says other artists’ interpretations do not influence how he sings them.

“Someone’s rendition of a song is sort of like the way we all speak English differently,” he says. “We can’t change our way of doing it. ... You know you may think you’re imitating Jerry Jeff Walker but you really don’t sound like him. You think you sound like them in your head but then you hear and realize that’s all me.”

As for how his music is labeled, Black doesn’t agree with that either. He’s often labeled as country, but “I’m closer to a folk-rock singer, or a troubadour in the old sense of the word. I’m not a political writer. I’d say my songs are more socially romantic.”

Jeff Black plays Ashley Street Station, 2010 N. Ashley St., with opening act Joe Smothers, a Valdosta musician and songwriter. Show starts 10 p.m. Cover charge at the door.