Anticipation ran high as the crowd filled the ski hill at Snow Park Wednesday night, waiting to experience the music of blues legends Bonnie Raitt and Keb’Mo’. Some anxiety regarding the dark, heavy skies was also apparent.
Teri Orr, as is customary, welcomed everyone and announced the concert would go on rain or shine unless lightning became an issue.
Keb’Mo’ took the stage first with a five-piece backup band (bass, drums, mandolin, keyboard, lead guitar) and within a few stanzas of their first tune, the rain began. It didn’t last long, but promised to return. On with the show
Switching from acoustic to National steel guitar, Keb’, ne Kevin Moore, continued to impress with his down-home, effortless style of country blues, all the while looking like a GQ model tall and lanky with sexy, chiseled features.
As he finished up “Rita,” a song from his recent “Suitcase” album, the storm broke in earnest. Orr assured everyone that Doppler said it was a fast mover, and the concert would continue in 10 minutes.
Almost everyone toughed it out, but lightning did strike ominously close. Finally, mostly drenched, the audience enthusiastically welcomed the bluesman back to the stage.
Keb’ and his band kept the crowd on their feet, warmed by dancing along to “Soon As I Get Paid,” “Standin’ at the Station” and “Gimme What You Got.” At one point he told his fans, “We had a set list but we tore it up.” He finished up with “Shave Yo’ Legs” and another “Suitcase” tune, “Whole ‘Nother Thang.”
Rather than an encore, the band left and Bonnie Raitt appeared with Keb’, offering a sensitive duet of vocals and guitars on “You” from Raitt’s album, “Bonnie Raitt and Friends.”
Following a short break, the nine-time Grammy winner, with her flowing, red hair and its recognizable shock of white, took command of the evening, beginning with a Junior Walker tune, “I’m a Roadrunner,” backed up by her four long-time band mates.
She continued with John Hiatt’s tune “Thing Called Love,” during which a gorgeous double rainbow appeared above the eastern mountains.
Raitt introduced “God Was In The Water” from her 2005 “Souls Alike” album and dedicated it to the survivors of Katrina and, following the Louisiana theme, introduced her keyboardist, Jon Cleary, performing a duet on “Unnecessarily Mercenary,” which he wrote and is also on “Souls Alike.” Switching to a Cajun flavor, Raitt sang a Maia Sharp tune, “I Don’t Want Anything to Change,” which she recorded as a duet with Norah Jones.
She sat down at the keyboard with the title track from her 1989 breakout album, “Nick of Time,” and dedicated it to her recently deceased parents.
Raitt took a moment to announce that her buses and trucks all ran on bio-diesel and announced it was “time to get out of the Mideast and back to the Midwest!”
She introduced a Sippie Wallace number, a down-and-dirty blues tune written in the 1920s and still relevant, “Don’t Advertise Your Man.”
Cleary picked up the mandolin and accompanied Raitt on the tearful Paul Siebel ballad, “Louise.” The instrumentation was sheer perfection as were the vocal harmonies. Those harmonies continued with “Something to Talk About,” as Raitt strutted and twirled — the consummate entertainer.
She ended her set with “Love Sneakin’ Up On You,” recorded on the “Friends” album with Keb’Mo’, Norah Jones, Alison Krauss and Ben Harper.
After the customary exit, she returned with the poignant “I Can’t Make You Love Me” from her “Luck of the Draw” CD. Many people began leaving at this point, still wet and too cold to stay, but those holdouts who remained were rewarded by the return of Keb’Mo’ and several more tunes, featuring a haunting duet with Raitt on John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery.”