As a bit of a music nerd it’s not often that I go to a concert knowing as little about the artists as this one, but with a great band and an amazing 15 Grammy awards between them the Emmy-Lou Harris and Rodney Crowell concert had all the ingredients to be something special, and it was.
My serendipitous ignorance was reinforced by the sheer number of songs I recognised as hits for other artists only to realise they were written by either of the two. The list was simply staggering and included tracks for Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, Waylon Jennings and Bob Seeger to name a few.
While counting Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, Conor Oberst, Mark Knopfler and Neil Young (a few among too many to mention) as former collaborators, Emmy-Lou could have been forgiven for hogging the spotlight but her respect (including equal billing) and affection for the “un-known to me “ Rodney Crowell was obvious and my introduction to him and his music was the true high-light of the gig.
Harris and Crowell first crossed paths over 40 years earlier when Crowell played on, sang on and contributed songs for Harris’ 1975 debut album “Pieces of the Sky” and their long history was evident on stage with a relaxed, almost subconscious interplay between the two reaching a zenith on their superbly, relaxed harmonies.
While often singing in support of each other it was in the genuine duets that their partnership really shone, particularly on tracks from their 2013 album “Old Yellow Moon”. The high points for me being a kick ass, up-tempo version of “Luxury Liner” (possibly Harris’s biggest hit) and a surprising yet fantastic version of the much covered classic “Love Hurts”.
Surrounding themselves with some young and very talented players proved genius as older songs were reinvigorated for an audience far better acquainted with the material than myself. The relaxed, economical and flawless playing of Aussie born guitarist, Jedd Hughes was simply amazing and added a genre mixing “hill-billy blues” flavour to the music. He was a real “ear-opener” and sparked an instant interest in searching out some of his solo material.
The concert was a great experience to share with my darling wife (not normally a country fan) and left us both instant fans of these two great artists.
Next week its boot scooting for sure!!**
(**By “for sure” I mean never, ever!!)
By Iain Wright