Bonnie Raitt leaves SOEC crowd mesmerized

on September 23, 2023 No comments
JAMES MILLER / Managing Editor

The highly-anticipated Bonnie Raitt show in Pentiton easily lived up to its expectations.

The 13-time Grammy Award winner played to a sold-out South Okanagan Events Centre, Friday, combining a greatest hits show with numbers from her most recent album, Just Like That, winner of three Grammys at the 2023 ceremony in February.

Backed by four musicians with a playing time of one hour, 50 minutes, what sticks out in my mind was how well behaved — almost subdued — the audience was. Opening act, Royal Wood, had the undivided attention of the audience, something rare for an opener. When Raitt took the stage at 9 p.m., there wasn’t much singing, dancing and unnecessary chatter, the crowd seemed mesmerized.

It’s not that they weren’t appreciative. The 73-year old Raitt, received five standing ovations, the first came before she played a single note.

She made references to political issues including praise for Canadians on truth and reconciliation. She had a flag of the Ukraine on stage lending her support to the people of the Ukraine. She quipped about “the election” in the States. Some forget that Raitt, before she became a household name, was better known for her activism in the late 1970s than her music (No Nukes with Jackson Browne and others.)

Much of the night’s material came from Nick of Time, her 1989 comeback which was her tenth studio album. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts at the time of hiphop, grunge and boy bands. She was hardly an overnight sensation.

Unfortunately for Raitt, Nick of Time won the Album of the Year Grammy for producer Don Was in the same year that Milli Vanilli won Best New Artist. No explanation required.

Back to Friday’s show.

Raitt handed out praise for many of her collaborators, mainly John Prine, who died of COVID during the early days of the pandemic and “my favourite Canadian” Shirley Eikhard, who wrote Raitt’s biggest chart success Something to Talk About. (Eikhard died last December of cancer at age 67.)

That song came surprisingly early in the night as she saved her signature song (for die-hard Bonnie Raitt fans) Angel From Montgomery by Prine, a song you never get tired of hearing, until the end of the show.

As one of three encores, she invited Royal Wood back on stage (nice touch) for a song by another Canadian, Lovers in the Dangerous Time by Bruce Cockburn. Awesome!

She even hinted that she’d like to return to Penticton. According to a website of set lists, her performance in Penticton ran overtime from others earlier in the tour.

As for Wood’s set, although extremely mellow, the Toronto musician has a beautiful voice, is a good storyteller and was accompanied by three skilled musicians.

For those who missed Friday’s show, Wood will be playing solo at The Dream Café in the New Year. As for Raitt, to have a better idea of the quality of her live shows, check out her 1995 live album Road Tested.

The Canadian leg of the Just Like That tour now moves to Alberta and Saskatchewan for a series of dates before closing at Massey Hall in Toronto on Oct. 6.

Source: © Copyright Penticton Herald

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Something to Gush About

on July 4, 2023 No comments
Mary Lee Pappas
Bonnie Raitt at Murat Theatre at Old National Centre, Indianapolis, IN – July 1, 2023 © James “Hutch” Hutchinson
Bonnie with Maia Sharp at Murat Theatre at Old National Centre, Indianapolis, IN – July 1, 2023

Maia Sharp, a musician who’s written songs for Bonnie Raitt, Cher, Edwin McCain, Art Garfunkel, Keb’Mo’ and more, opened the show as people were still finding their seats.

Thankfully, some talkers got emphatically shushed into silence, so all could, undisturbed, take in this amazing singer/songwriter armed with only her guitar.

“Junkyard Dog” and the wry “Nice Girl,” with the key lyric derived from her ex saying, “You’ll make a nice girl miserable someday,” had the crowd smiling and immersed in her love-lost storytelling. “Old Dreams” and other songs from her Reckless Thoughts album, which will be released in August, were also performed.

If you don’t know Sharp, you may’ve heard her song “Nothing But the Radio” in rotation on 92.3 WTTS. They presented the evening’s show as part of their Rock to Read Concert Series, which raises funds for children’s literacy programs through the Indianapolis Public Library. Learn more at

Bonnie Raitt is the GOAT. The blues-rock star doesn’t need a review or any clever compliments. Her praises have been sung for decades with her voice, guitar skills, and songwriting unwaveringly prodigious.

She was met with a standing ovation when she walked onto the stage. This was before she could even grab her guitar – her first of many. With a cool poise and ease in delivery, she started the show with “Made Up Mind” from her latest album from 2022, Just Like That… followed by the funky “Used to Rule the World.”

An expansive backdrop of a clouded sky dusted with sunset pinks set the mood while the Ukrainian flag rested on the drum riser. Raitt, an elegant activist, said, “We’re traveling with the Ukrainian flag,” as a reminder of the country’s plight.

On the last night of the tour before a two-month hiatus, Raitt said, “It’s like the last night of summer camp, so anything could happen.” This show was rescheduled from a May 20 postponement due to a “medical situation that required surgery to address.” her social media had relayed. Whatever the matter, she appeared unsurprisingly bionic and unconquerable. Later in the show, she humored, “I’ll be happy to be home and do my laundry.” But her uniform tour blouses (who makes them?) probably require dry cleaning. For this night, she donned a dark blue satin, three-quarter sleeve button-down shirt with sparkly pin-stripes and raspberry-fushia turned-back cocktail cuffs – a shirt made for guitar playing.

Truly a badass, her voice was mesmerizingly perfect in person. She pulled from her heart to relay every lyric in her timeless songs. Interacting with the audience, she had a quip for any banter—a pro. The sound quality was exceptional, and the depth of synergy among the band was brilliant, pushing the escapist experience of witnessing this legend live. The band is la crème de la crème: Hutch Hutchinson, her bassist of 30 years; Ricky Fataar of The Rutles fame and a Beach Boy for a stint in the early 70s on drums; the soulful Glenn Patscha on keys: and the famed Duke Levine on guitar. Tight and meticulous.

“No Business” from the “Luck of the Draw” 1991 album was up next, giving fans the treat of witnessing her slide guitar mastery. She then praised her team, saying, “I love my band, and I love this crew…thank you for a great tour,” before launching into “Blame It On Me” off the new album. Before Patscha could lay out the soulful, moody intro on the Hammond, Raitt said, “I’ve got to get pissed off to sing this.” Naturally, it was one of her many love and heartache songs making attendees teary-eyed. “Nick of Time” from her 1989 breakthrough album of the same title roused this retiree-aged crowd enough to clap along and cry a little more. Guitar number four came out for the melancholy “Just like that,” then a lively “Something to Talk About.” Accolades to the uninhibited: a woman with a close-up orchestra seat on the right side who got up and danced, and the guy to the far left about seven rows back who grooved in the aisle for the whole show.

It was great to hear hits like “Love Letter,” “Love Sneakin’ Up on You,” and “Have a Heart” that had people singing along. An intangible, graceful performance of John Prine’s “Angel of Montgomery” with Raitt welcoming “My sister, Maia Sharp,” to the stage to accompany her was an entrancing highlight. Raitt exclaimed, “Thank you for this song,” among her many praises of Prine, and added of Sharp, “One of the finest we’ve got.”

The only peculiar aspect of the evening was the audience. With iconic songs ingrained into Americana like “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” how was the crowd not more diverse? Considering her collaborations, and her style, it made no sense. Does her music reach younger audiences? Was my 48-year-old Raitt devotee friend the youngest person in the crowd? OK, staff circling the aisles with their green lights, ensuring no one was sneaking pics or recording, was a bit annoying, but whatever.

Among her three-song encore was a heart-wrenching rendition of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” that, no matter how many times it’s been covered or by whichever greats, it’s Raitt’s emotive embodiment of the lyrics, the story of unrequited love that feels like she’s as the Roberta Flack song goes, “Killing me softly.” Another unforgettable moment in a most remarkable show. Every aspect of this concert would leave anyone awestruck. Seeing Raitt live should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Source: © Copyright NUVO

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Concert Review: Freihofers Saratoga Jazz Festival (Day 2) @ SPAC, 06/25/2023

on June 27, 2023 No comments
By Michael Hochanadel
(edited by BPJ)

No umbrellas, no problem.

Sunday’s second half of the 46th Freihofers Saratoga Jazz Festival felt as warm-summery as Saturday felt cool-swampy, when fans dodged puddles deep enough to swim across. No, no, I’m goofing, and with relief.

Bonnie Raitt closed the festival before 8:30 p.m., the time shows once started at Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

Fans left happy, but questions lingered: “What is jazz?” “Who should play jazz festivals?” “Why can’t I shoot phone photos and videos?”

Raitt steamrolled all that with top quality, heartfelt music, demonstrating perfectly the need to invite non-jazz-purists into the fold to ensure such events continue.

Before that twilight hour rang with Raitt’s blues, rock and soul, Sunday seemed a sort of miniature of Saturday events. Sunday was nine hours of music in nine performances versus ten and half hours of music in 12 performances Saturday; and symmetrical moments emerged.

Bonnie Raitt brought maybe her best-ever band to the festival, with a strong batch of songs inspired in part by the death-by-Covid of friend and songwriting mentor John Prine. After 50 years onstage as a dedicated proponent of Black blues, R&B and folk-influenced pop, and kinfolk in the crowd, she knew what to do.

The mid-tempo rocker “Made Up Mind” opened, both her voice and slide-guitar playing impressively strong; and she stayed for a while with straight-ahead rock tunes, including new ones from 2022’s “Just Like That” album, before digging later back into blues and R&B.

Freihofers Saratoga Jazz Festival (Day 2) @ SPAC – 6/25/2023 © Rudy Lu

On tour most of a year since the Covid eclipse, her band is pros and pals: guitarist Duke Levine, keyboardist Glen Patscha, drummer Ricky Fataar and bassist Hutch Hutchinson, with an occasional offstage percussion assist.

Everything was polished and properly punchy, or soothing. Raitt concentrated more on playing lots of songs than stretching them out. Her slide guitar breaks and solos by Levine and Patscha made their point quickly; then they were on to the next.

After the contemporary “Made Up Mind” came the older “Used to Rule the World” and John Hiatt’s “No Business,” then “Blame It On Me,” her favorite from “Just Like That,” the hit “Nick of Time,” and a Bobby Rush deep blues “A Million Miles.” These were fine, but things got more serious with “Just Like That.” a Grammy Song of the Year winner inspired by Prine and telling a mother’s tale of her late son’s donated heart saving a life.

Now she was deep, and life-or-death tunes stood tall among hit crowd-pleasers, the rollicking vintage “Something to Talk About” setting up the somber, percolating new “Ones Who Didn’t Make It,” for example.

She rode the reggae bounce of “Have a Heart” with an extra fine slide solo, then made it through Prine’s heartbreaking “Angel From Montgomery,” a staple of her shows since 1971.

Unlike a night-time show, Raitt could actually see her audience, and this seemed to inspire and empower her. The skill impressed, but the feel was real, and that mattered more.

All the artists playing the main on Sunday required that fans not take phone photos or videos, prompting some grumbles on-site and online. Though I’ve photographed shows for decades myself for publications and websites, I’m with the artists here: Who wants to look out at an audience and see a sea of cell phones blocking faces?

As to “What’s jazz?” and “Who should play jazz festivals?” my short answer is “Anybody who’s good enough.” This festival flew by on the wings of top talent. My faves: Emmet Cohen, Cory Wong, Hiromi’s Sonicwonder, Samara Joy, Jupiter Okwess, and Bonnie Raitt. Yeah, Bonnie Raitt.

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Source: © Copyright Nippertown

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