Whether he likes it or not, Augusta's own Larry Jon Wilson is being hailed in England as the second coming of a reluctant musical hero.
Mr. Wilson's new CD, Larry Jon Wilson (Sony BMG/UK), is being praised in such laudable terms that you would think some lost royal treasure had been discovered.
Well, maybe that's true, because it is the Georgia troubadour's first full album released in 28 years.
"Thank you 1965 Records for releasing this album," reviewer Malcolm Carter wrote for the British CD sales site pennyblackmusic.co.uk. "Thank you to whoever was responsible for hauling this almost forgotten talent back into the recording studio. But most of all thank you to Larry Jon Wilson for possessing a voice that can break the strongest of hearts and knowing what to do with it. Just don't leave it another 30 odd years please."
Simon Harper, writing for the British west midlands magazine Cul de Sac, calls Mr. Wilson's new CD "a hugely enjoyable and long-awaited return from an exceptional songwriter."
Back home, though, it's the same old story.
Mr. Wilson is regarded as just another local guitar player. He is booked with three other performers for the Songwriters Come Home concert at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Etherredge Center on the University of South Carolina Aiken campus: Aiken-connected singer-songwriters Archie Jordan (What a Difference You Made in My Life ), Stewart Harris (No One Else on Earth ) and Mike Stewart (Don't You Know How Much I Love You ).
Tickets, which benefit USC Aiken music scholarships, cost $30. Call the theater box office at (803) 641-3305.
If you don't think Mr. Wilson is causing a major stir in England, consider these words about his CD on the Web site of the Leytonstone Festival near London, which Mr. Wilson headlined in mid-July:
"If Johnny Cash raised the bar for country music with his (album) American Recordings and Willie Nelson held it high with Songbird , Larry Jon Wilson is certainly within reach, his weary baritone plucking at the heartstrings on his own tunes and taking Heartland -- well known as a Willie Nelson or, more often, Bob Dylan tune -- and making it completely his own.
"The emotion on show here leaves Wilson stripped to the bone. If you thought Neil Diamond's recent album was interesting, you'll soon realize Larry Jon is fascinating. There won't be a better album of this type released this year ... probably not for a few years yet!"
Those who know Mr. Wilson know how uncomfortable he is about fame, always preferring to have his songs better known than his name in lights.
"There's been an awful lot of good press over there," Mr. Wilson said last week about his British reviewers. "But I just enjoy coming home and not being that well-known. I'm just doing over there what I do here."
Well, yes, but over there they sure do seem to appreciate what you do more.
Don Rhodes has written about country music for 37 years. He can be reached at (706) 823-3214 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT: Songwriters Come Home benefit concert, with Larry Jon Wilson, Archie Jordan, Stewart Harris and Mike Stewart
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Etherredge Center, University of South Carolina Aiken
COST: $30; benefits USC Aiken scholarships; (803) 641-3305