By TOM CHESEK
While he doesn’t usually make the short list of well-known musicians who’ve called the Jersey Shore their home, Little Silver native Greg Trooper has an uncanny knack for being on the scene wherever music happens or is just about to happen.
The 56-year-old singer and songwriter was present and accounted for when the NYC folk clubs summoned forth a bold new crop of performers in the 1970s and ’80s. He was at large in Austin when that Texas town was tearing up the country music rulebook and in Nashville when a next-generation Music City began to attract veteran Shorecats like John Eddie and Garry Tallent.
On Saturday, Trooper returns to Red Bank the setting of many an after-school hangout back in the day for a major benefit concert presented under the name Goin Country for Kids. A fundraiser for the Strong Kids Program at THE Community YMCA, the 8 pm show at the Count Basie Theatre finds Trooper appearing in support of country superstar Clint Black himself a momentary son of the greater Red Bank green (and if you don’t believe us, check the NJ Wall of Fame at Murphy’s on Broad Street).
The solo acoustic set is expected to draw from his 25-year catalog of recorded work a discography that includes 2011s Upside Down Town, in which the darker vocal tones of the mature Trooper make a gritty but satisfying fit with a lyrical style that was always world-weary and wise beyond the composers years. The acclaimed songwriters songwriter would see his vivid vignettes interpreted by performers from Steve Earle (Little Sister) and Vince Gill (We Wont Dance) to Lucy Kaplansky (The Heart) and Billy Bragg (Everywhere).
Working with such sought-after producers as Buddy Miller, Dan Penn and Tallent, Trooper has employed sensibly spare arrangements (spotlighting fiddles, pedal steel, accordion and some quietly intense guitar) in a way that presaged what we now call Americana even as it avoided the potential embarrassments of Opryland fad and fashion.
redbankgreen has some Q’s and A’s with Trooper below. If you missed the Clint Black interview earlier this week, thumb it over to here.