Memphis is a city that’s home to enough great musicians that being a local hero there means a lot more than it does in most places, and Sid Selvidge was a guy who was not only a big deal in Memphis, he was a big deal to folks who were a big deal in the Bluff City, including Alex Chilton, Furry Lewis, and James Luther Dickinson. Selvidge was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who had made a name for himself in St. Louis before moving on to Memphis, where he began playing three nights a week at an intimate night spot called the Procape Gardens. His voice was a remarkable instrument that was equally comfortable with blues, folk, and traditional country styles, while his guitar work was deft and versatile, providing a comfortable background for his repertoire, which encompassed original tunes, classic blues, folk standards, and Tin Pan Alley favorites. 1976’s The Cold of the Morning wasn’t Selvidge’s first album, but the spare, atmospheric production by Dickinson, intended to capture a late-night set at the Procape Gardens, serves him beautifully. Most of the album is just Selvidge and his acoustic guitar, and the recording captures the subtle tones of his voice as well as the action of his six-string, and as he winds his way through the country blues of “Judge Boushe,” the sentimentality of “Danny Boy,” the playful braggadocio of “Then I’d Be Satisfied with Life,” the languid highway tales of “Many a Mile,” or the wistful mood of “Miss the Mississippi and You,” it feels like Selvidge could make his way through the whole of American music and make it meaningful if he had time enough. And the two tunes where Selvidge teams up with Dickinson’s oddball blues group Mud Boy & the Neutrons add a touch of playful surrealism to the proceedings. Selvidge never came a stone’s throw from stardom outside Memphis, given a talent that worked best in small rooms and on his own terms, but The Cold of the Morning shows just why he was so revered in Memphis and among his musical peers: give him the right circumstances, and Selvidge could work real magic with his voice and guitar.