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This article was published 5/7/2018 (926 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Orlando, Fla.'s Willi Carlisle is superb in this affecting and ambitious one-man drama about a dying folksinger grappling with his past — and what he’ll leave behind when there ain’t no more — at his final concert.
Carlisle seamlessly switches between old man and young, aided by a convincing old-man mask but mostly relying on his impressive physicality. We see vignettes from his life — the Vietnam War, the death of his mentor, the love he lost — as he explores larger issues of anger, manhood and misogyny. There Ain’t No More is both a love letter to and a sharp critique of American folk music.
And, of course, there’s the music. Expertly roving between guitar, banjo, fiddle, harmonica and accordion, Carlisle tells his folksinger’s story through classic folk songs and murder ballads, including Hallelujah! I’m a Bum and Banks of the Ohio.
The most powerful performance, however, involves no instruments at all: his a cappella version of Steve Goodman’s 1972 Vietnam protest song The Ballad of Penny Evans is absolutely haunting. Music fans: don’t sleep on this one.
— Jen Zoratti