Tommy Prine at Wolf Hills Brewing Company

Tommy Prine headlined a sold out acoustic solo show at Abingdon’s Wolf Hills Brewing Company last night. 

The venue is a delightfully rustic space tucked into the edges of town, in turn tucked into the southwest corner of Virginia. Sporting an array of fresh brews, it has become the hot tip in town. The crowd spilled out into the courtyard, with some folks peering through the windows. 

Tommy Prine did not ignore the fact that his Dad is high in the pantheon of American songwriters. But Tommy gamely added his own voice to a solid set of original songs. 

“Cash Carter Hill” was written as a result of a lucky break. A buddy had been invited by the iconic duo’s son to stay at their empty house. The result was a burst of songwriting; clearly stardust was still in the air from the departed Johnny and June.

Tommy also presented a few songs resulting inevitably from his father’s death a year ago. Touching on memories of playing music and spades with his father, he also lyrically questioned his belief in a higher being. 

“Reach the Sun” is about a panic attack, stemming from a radical change of touring plans. 

Other songs reflected his recent engagement to a gal whom he claimed made him a better guy. 

If you weren’t aware of his genealogy, you probably wouldn’t tie Tommy to his father. That ultimately is a good thing, allowing Tommy to stand on his own merits. 

Nonetheless, Tommy did play his Dad’s “The Late John Garfield Blues” asking “how did the hell did this dude write this song?” 

It’s a question many of us continue to ponder. 

Tommy pointed out whenever he misses his Dad he can play one of his Dad’s songs and have a bit of a conversation with him. That’s a blessing shared by a fairly small number of people. 

I have seen separately Stephen and Damian Marley add their Dad’s immortal reggae classic to their sets.

Tommy closed the show with a song that once brought tears to his grandfather’s eyes, causing John’s Dad to leave the room when John played it the first time. It cut way too close to the bone. “Paradise” tells the story of a homeland stripped ecologically by big business. It was perfectly poignant in this corner of the world. 

As if on cue, as Tommy wrapped up his set as a lonesome freight train rumbled by 20 yards away. 

Local hero Adam Bolt opened with a great set. 

Wolf Hills Brewery

Tommy Prine

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.