No one, particularly from her generation, sings the words “rock me, baby” quite like Bonnie Raitt. It’s more like private pillow talk rather than a song lyric.
When she uttered that line, at least a handful of times, at the Orpheum Theatre on Sunday, she exuded the same sly sensuality that has been key to her broad appeal since she first emerged in the early 1970s.
It was a homecoming of sorts for Raitt, who lived in the area in the late ’60s when she attended Radcliffe College, and old times were clearly on her mind.
“I got so much history in this place [that] I’m grinning from ear to ear,” she told the sold-out crowd by way of introduction before easing into a two-hour set that was loose and limber enough to survey most of her long career.
Raitt turned 64 recently, a fact that she noted as a point of pride, and she’s starting to wear her age as a badge of hard-won honor. The older Raitt who sang Chris Smither’s “Love Me Like a Man,” raunchy and smoldering at the same time, brought more pathos to that acoustic blues number than she could have mustered as a young woman.
The same could be said of her performance of “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” A signature ballad for her, by now it could be a rote staple in her repertoire; instead, she imbued it with an elegiac sense of loss, like a torch singer after last call at the bar. She began “Angel From Montgomery,” dedicated to her mother’s memory, as an a cappella hymn that sent shivers down the spine.
Moving seamlessly between tearjerkers and stomping rockers, she was highly attuned to her band members, each of whom — guitarist George Marinelli, bassist James “Hutch” Hutchinson, drummer Ricky Fataar, and organ player Mike Finnigan — added vibrant color and contrasts to Raitt’s work on slide guitar.
She also got by with a little help from her friends, including Marc Cohn, who sang Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love” as a duet with Raitt and also opened the show with a set of stately piano pop. Raitt also brought out Bonnie Hayes, the head of the songwriting department at Berklee College of Music, and they took turns singing “Have a Heart,” which Hayes wrote.
They all took a final bow with Raitt, who glowed like she had just spent the past two hours doing exactly what she wanted. By her own admission, she had.
“We love our jobs, and we’re not suited for anything else,” she had joked earlier in the evening.
Jazz and blues fests are everywhere now, and Americana is going strong on college radio. What I'm hearing is an appreciation of real music.
I speak my mind and come from a place of conscience, as well as have fun as a musician.
I don't know if I'm a heroine; I'm just somebody that can cheer the troops by singing to folks, and have receptions after the show, and tithe a dollar of every ticket sale for all kinds of different great charities and social action groups.
Quakers are known for wanting to give back. Ban the bomb and the civil rights movement and the native American struggle for justice - those things were very, very front-burner in my childhood, as were the ideas of working for peace and if you have more than you need, then you share it with people who don't.
The consolidation of the music business has made it difficult to encourage styles like the blues, all of which deserve to be celebrated as part of our most treasured national resources.
I think my fans will follow me into our combined old age. Real musicians and real fans stay together for a long, long time.
I grew up in Los Angeles in a Quaker family, and for me being Quaker was a political calling rather than a religious one.
I just play the music that I love with musicians that I respect, and fortunately, I'm in a position where people are willing to play with me, and perhaps I can do something to help them.
I never saw music in terms of men and women or black and white. There was just cool and uncool.
Solar power is the last energy resource that isn't owned yet - nobody taxes the sun yet.
Religion is for those who are scared of hell, and spirituality is for those who have been there.
Life gets mighty precious when there's less of it to waste.
Bandana Blues is and will always be a labor of love. Please help Spinner deal with the costs of hosting & bandwidth. Visit www.bandanablues.com and hit the tipjar. Any amount is much appreciated, no matter how small. Thank you.
Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine, Vol. 2, the anticipated new John Prine tribute record from Oh Boy Records, is out today. Stream/purchase HERE.
Created as a celebration of Prine’s life and career, the album features new renditions of some of Prine’s most beloved songs performed by Brandi Carlile (“I Remember Everything”), Tyler Childers (“Yes I Guess They Oughta Name A Drink After You”), Iris DeMent (“One Red Rose”), Emmylou Harris (“Hello In There”), Jason Isbell (“Souvenirs”), Valerie June (“Summer’s End”), Margo Price (“Sweet Revenge”), Bonnie Raitt (“Angel From Montgomery”), Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (“Pretty Good”), Amanda Shires (“Saddle in the Rain”), Sturgill Simpson(“Paradise”) and John Paul White (“Sam Stone”). Proceeds from the album will benefit twelve different non-profit organizations, one selected by each of the featured artists.
Bonnie Raitt - Write Me a Few of Your Lines/Kokomo Blues
60 years anniversary celebration of Arhoolie
December 10, 2020
Arhoolie Foundation celebrates it's 60th anniversary (1960-2020) with an online broadcast.
Bonnie Raitt - Shadow of Doubt
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
October 3, 2020
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass celebrates it's 20th anniversary with an online broadcast titled “Let The Music Play On”.
Bonnie Raitt & Boz Scaggs - You Don't Know Like I Know
Farm Aid 2020 On the Road
Sam & Dave classic written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter.
Sheryl Crow & Bonnie Raitt - Everything Is Broken
[Eric Clapton’s Crossroads 2019]
Eric Clapton, one of the world’s pre-eminent blues/rock guitarists, once again summoned an all-star team of six-string heroes for his fifth Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2019. Held at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, the two-day concert event raised funds for the Crossroads Centre in Antigua, the chemical dependency treatment and education facility that Clapton founded in 1998.
'A Tribute To Mose Allison'
Celebrates The Music Of An Exciting Jazz Master
Raitt contributed to a new album, If You're Going To The City: A Tribute To Mose Allison, which celebrates the late singer and pianist, who famously blended the rough-edged blues of the Mississippi Delta with the 1950s jazz of New York City.
NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks to Bonnie Raitt about her friendship with the Mose Allison. They're also joined by Amy Allison — his daughter, who executive produced the album — about selecting an unexpected list of artists to contribute songs to the album.
Recorded on tour June 3, 2017 - Centennial Hall, London - Ontario Canada