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Singer-songwriter double bill kicks off tour at Route 60 Music

May. 02, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

When the quirky West Virginia songwriter Todd Burge wants a killer solo slipped into one of his songs, he's got to rely on his own two hands wrangling the neck of his acoustic guitar or a sporadic blast on the harmonica wrapped 'round his neck.

Not this weekend -- he's guitar armed and dangerous.

Burge, who's been tabbed West Virginia's "Sultan of Sardonic," is rolling on a mini tour with guitar great, Bill Kirchen, the studio veteran who's called the "Titan of the Telecaster," for his tasty guitar work with such acts as Nick Lowe, Emmylou Harris, Doug Sahm, Elvis Costello and, of course, Commander Cody, with whom he threw down the licks on the signature Top 10 hit, "Hot Rod Lincoln."

The two noted singer/songwriters are rolling through Marietta, Ohio, Morgantown, W.Va., and Canton, Ohio, where they'll be recording and playing with noted musician and engineer Don Dixon, who has worked on albums of everyone from R.E.M. and Mary Chapin Carpenter to The Carpenter Ants.

That tour kicks off at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 2, at Route 60 Music in Barboursville.

Tickets are $10 and on sale at Route 60. Go online at www.route60music.com or call 304-736-7466.

A repeat guest on Mountain Stage and someone who has toured with such folks as Tim O'Brien, Kathy Mattea, Lucinda Williams, Bela Fleck, Mike Seeger, Larry Groce, Ricky Skaggs and many others, Burge said he's excited for the series of intimate shows that will feature a dozen or more songs from both artists.

"It's obviously great for me anytime you line yourself up with an internationally known dude," Burge said. "For Bill, he has this huge catalog of songs that he does with his band Too Much Fun, and there are certain songs he doesn't play a lot, so it's going to be a different show. He'll do his signature tunes and then dig into his catalog and do things people haven't heard for a while or new songs he wouldn't normally play with a rock trio."

Burge, who released two CDs in 2012, one for grownups entitled "Building Characters" produced by Don Dixon and featuring Tim O'Brien and one for children entitled "Character Building," said the timing and location of the tour worked perfect for Kirchen who is making his way over to Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch where he'll be teaching another guitar class.

"I love saying this that it was Bill's idea," Burge said with a laugh. "This wasn't me. I mean I have weaseled my way onto tours with Tim O'Brien to much success. But Bill goes to Jorma's Fur Peace Ranch at the end of the tour where he'll end up teaching and playing with Hot Tuna."

Last year, after Kirchen's Fur Peace Ranch gig, Burge popped up and played harmonica and percussion for him at a concert that Kirchen and his wife did in St. Mary's, W.Va.

Burge, who is on the board for the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame, said they first met when Michael Lipton, director of the Hall was recording songs for "Always Lift Him Up: A Tribute to Blind Alfred Reed" and that led into them meeting and hanging out again at the Folk Alliance in Memphis with O'Brien, John Lilly, the late Hazel Dickens and others.

"It is a wonderful life, this music life," Burge said. "Lord knows it doesn't pay a lot but there is sometimes that I have been really lucky and most everybody you meet is really nice, but Bill is one of those guys who instantly you feel like you've known all your life."

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