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Josh Ritter Live in Chicago

Josh Ritter Live in ChicagoJosh Ritter at Park West Auditorium

Chicago, October 16, 2007

What’s in a smile? Mother Theresa said, “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” If you were at the Park West on Tuesday night, you could feel the love. Most of it was coming from the stage.

Josh Ritter’s name is often mentioned alongside the names of the great singer-songwriters of the last generation. Dylan, Springsteen, Taylor. That, to me, is misleading. Ritter, while a capable songwriter with a knack for crafting tight stories with memorable melodies, is a clown. He’s a performer. Someone who brings a smile to your face. And he does it honestly, not with canned speeches and obligatory shout-outs to your city. He does it through the joy of performing. The smile on his face is the same you see on a child’s when he discovers that people respond to a happy face more favorably than a full-throated scream. When a child smiles at you it’s near impossible not to smile back.

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