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Taylor and Raitt strike a harmonious note in Newark

The veteran singer-songwriters share a bill, and the stage, at the Prudential Center.

on July 7, 2017 No comments

by Jay Lustig, Special to The Record

  © Michael Karas /Northjersey.com

 

James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt’s first show together was in 1970, at the Sanders Theatre in Cambridge, Mass. He headlined and she, still a junior at Radcliffe College, opened.

Their paths have continued to cross over the years. Most famously, perhaps, they both performed at the “No Nukes” protest concerts at Madison Square Garden in 1979. And on Thursday night, Taylor, 69, and Raitt, 67, kicked off a joint tour at the Prudential Center in Newark.

Taylor pronounced it a “dream come true” moments before they performed one of their three numbers together: His tender ballad “You Can Close Your Eyes,” which they sang while sitting close to each other on stools, backed only by his acoustic guitar.

It was Taylor’s third encore. For the first, he and Raitt, backed by his full band, sang Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” as a tribute to the late rock icon, with Raitt on slide guitar and Taylor’s guitarist Michael Landau both taking solos.

They sang that, as well as “You Can Close Your Eyes,” in unison, harmonizing throughout instead of taking different lines or verses. They had performed together at the end of Raitt’s opening set, too, on Raitt’s 1989 John Hiatt-written hit “Thing Called Love,” trading verses and harmonizing on the choruses. And though it wasn’t a duet, Raitt made sure to include her cover of Taylor’s “Rainy Day Man” in her set.

The collaborations made the evening unique, though on a more basic level, the tour is simply an opportunity to see two formidable artists, both backed by top-notch bands, in the same evening. And by teaming up, Taylor and Raitt can play bigger venues – arenas and stadiums – than the amphitheaters and theaters where they usually can be found.

“This is a trip,” Raitt said, staring out at the vast expanses of the Prudential Center.

 

In his nearly two-hour set, Taylor sang the mellow masterpieces he is best known for: “Fire and Rain,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” “Sweet Baby James,” “Carolina in My Mind” and so on. But he also had plenty of room for more upbeat hits such as “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You),” “Your Smiling Face,” “Mexico” (with more of a salsa feel than in the studio version) and the gospelly “Shed a Little Light,” and he worked in some less familiar songs, including “Montana,” “Sunny Skies” and “Jump Up Behind Me.”
Virtually everyone in his large band — including such session giants as the drummer Steve Gadd, the percussionist Luis Conte and the saxophonist “Blue Lou” Marini — got at least one spotlight solo, with some enthusiastic praise from Taylor and even a photo display, for each musician, on the video screens. Taylor made much use of those screens, showing lots of old photos and video footage of himself during songs, and well as other video sequences meant to complement the material. It added a busy visual component to music that was calm and centered and soulful, and I wonder if the show would have been even more powerful without it (or with the screens used more sparingly).

Raitt had less time to work with, but still included lots of trademark songs (including “Something to Talk About” and an achingly slow “Angel From Montgomery”) and covers ranging from Los Lobos’ “Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes” to Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House” and INXS’ “Need You Tonight.”

She also ventured into reggae for “Have a Heart” and dove deep into the blues for an acoustic “Love Me Like a Man” and a blistering electric “Spit of Love.”

“Thank you,” she said after “Spit of Love.” “Glad I got that off my chest.”

Before “Angel From Montgomery,” which was written by John Prine, she mentioned that she, Taylor, Prine, Emmylou Harris, Maria Muldaur and many other singer-songwriters all started out together around the same time, in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“Who would have thought that 50 years later, we’d all still be doing it?” she asked.

Source: © Copyright NorthJersey.com

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Throwback Thursday: Bonnie Raitt

on July 14, 2016 No comments

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By Paste Staff

Every Thursday, we dig through the Paste Cloud archives to revisit some of our favorite old concert videos and audio. This week, we’ve got material from Bonnie Raitt.

Bonnie Raitt: Live at Oakland Coliseum Arena, Oakland, CA 1989

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Bonnie’s band:
Johnny Lee Schell – guitar, trombone
James “Hutch” Hutchinson – bass
Walt Richmond – keyboards
Tony Braunagel – drums
Marty Grebb – keyboards, saxophone

Setlist:
0:00:00 – Bill Graham intro and Bonnie Raitt opening banter
0:01:01 – About To Make Me Leave Home
0:05:06 – Talk To Me
0:08:53 – Green Lights
0:13:03 – Too Soon To Tell
0:17:17 – Cry On My Shoulder
0:21:35 – Love Me Like A Man
0:25:34 – Give It Up Or Let Me Go
0:30:52 – Thing Called Love
0:34:56 – Love Letter
0:38:59 – Three Time Loser
0:43:16 – Nick Of Time
0:47:58 – Dedication to Lowell George
0:48:57 – River Of Tears

One of many great pioneers who oversaw the creation of the Americana/alt-country genre, Bonnie Raitt is one of traditional American music’s great treasures. This performance, from December 31th, 1989 at the Oakland Coliseum Arena in Oakland, CA, shows Raitt at a time period when this type of music was thriving. Americana was enjoying a bit of a renaissance, with Uncle Tupelo on the verge of releasing their debut album. In the next few years, acts like The Bottle Rockets, Blue Mountain and Whiskeytown would be formed and create a new sub-genre of country-rock music. Raitt, however, was a veteran of this hybrid genre, and this performance feels fluent without being too glib.

Kicking things off with “About to Make Me Leave Home,” Raitt and her fantastic band quickly put the show into high gear by following this with a NRBQ cover, “Green Lights.” Many of Bonnie Raitt’s bigger tunes were also performed including “Nick of Time,” (the title track of the album she was touring for at the time) “Love Letter” and “Have A Heart.” The show concludes with “Willya Wontcha” a number off of Bonnie Raitt’s 1982 LP Green Lights.

Raitt continues to be a huge influence on her genre; she earned a nomination for “Artist of The Year” at the 2016 Americana Music Awards. In addition, her recently released album Dig In Deep received acclaim from critics across the board. Hopefully the future still has much in store for Raitt, who is still one of the great songwriters and vocalists in Americana music. —Ben Rosner

Final night of the 1989 tour, a huge year for Bonnie.
For this concert she opened for the Grateful Dead for their annual New Year’s Eve show.
This is a high-energy performance and Bonnie’s on fire.

After her own set Bonnie played a very nice slideguitar with the Grateful Dead on the song “Big Boss Man”

 

Opening acts were New Grass Revival and Bonnie Raitt. Ms. Raitt came out to play slide with the boys on a lovely reading of the Jimmy Reed classic, ‘Big Boss Man.’

This is a song the Dead had played quite a bit between ’66 and ’72, but since it was reintroduced into their repertoire in 1981 it had only been played a handful of times. It hadn’t been played in about a year and a half at the time of this show and I was psyched to see them pull it out.

 

19891231_2302    19891231_2303

Source: © Copyright Paste Magazine

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Bonnie Raitt Picks Her 10 Favorite Duets

on February 22, 2016 No comments

2/22/2016 by David Ritz

The blues artist estimates that she has guested on more than 100 songs. Her shortlist of the most unforgettable — with apologies to those left off the list.

“I’m in the Mood,” with John Lee Hooker (1989)
This collaboration won a Grammy for best traditional blues recording, but that’s not why it ranks among Raitt‘s favorites: “I shared musical heat with John Lee Hooker.”

“Someone To Love,” with Charles Brown (1992)
Her duet with the famed blues singer and pianist appeared on his eponymous album, Someone To Love. Raitt says, “I adored the man and miss him every day.”

“Hey There,” with John Raitt (1995)
One of three duets on her father’s Broadway Legend album, this show-tune cover from The Pajama Game is, in Raitt’s words, “a daddy-daughter moment to cherish forever.”

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