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Recognizing Bonnie Raitt in the nick of time

on September 11, 2016 No comments
Bonnie Raitt shows off a ring she bought from Lincoln jewelry maker Sydney Lynch at a jewelry fair in California a few years ago. Raitt gave Lynch a shout-out at her tuesday night pinewood Bowl concert. © Craig Roper

The customer wore granny glasses and a floppy hat and Sydney Lynch — the woman whose rings the woman was eyeing at a San Francisco art fair — had no idea who she was.

“Honestly, I talked to her for 20 minutes before the light bulb went on.”

On Tuesday night, the Lincoln jewelry maker met Bonnie Raitt for a second time, backstage after the blues rocker with a voice of gold wowed the crowd at Pinewood Bowl, a designer ring flashing from her guitar-picking right hand.

“It was like hanging out with someone I’ve known forever,” Lynch said.

Lynch has been making jewelry forever and is nationally acclaimed for her one-of-a-kind designs — rings and necklaces, earrings and bracelets inspired by nature, gems set in gleaming gold and oxidized silver and sold in jewelry stores, galleries and at art fairs across the country.

She was tending her booth at the American Craft Council Show in 2014 when Raitt stopped to shop.

“She was with a friend and she’d tucked that mane of gorgeous hair into a big black hat and she was tiny.”

Raitt told Lynch she needed a ring that would stand up to constant wear.

“She said she worked with her hands. I almost said, ‘Oh, are you a potter?’”

(She’s glad she didn’t.)

“Then she said, ‘Oh, you’re from Lincoln, that’s cool,’ and I said, ‘Really, why?’ and she said, ‘Well, you know there’s a great blues club there.’”

(Raitt couldn’t remember the name, so Lynch supplied one: The Zoo Bar?)

That was it. And after more looking and more chatting, Raitt settled on a ring — five stacked bands adorned with three gemstones.

Lynch thanked her. Raitt paid her and signed her receipt: Bonnie O’Keefe.

And that’s when the light went on. Wait, Bonnie? Works with her hands? Loves the blues? (Once married to Michael O’Keefe, although Lynch didn’t know that at the time.)

But she did ask the question.

And, yes, yes, she was.

“It was all I could do to not scream and jump up and down and maintain some decorum,” said Lynch, who does not seem the screaming and jumping type.

But Raitt had been Lynch’s idol in college. She and her friends would blast her music into the dormitory halls at the University of Colorado, wearing out the grooves on her early albums.

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“Those songs were practically the soundtrack of our lives in the ’70s.”

That day in 2014, Lynch told Raitt her coming-of-age musical story and then the singer and her friend continued on their way, stopping back at the booth to say goodbye a few hours later.

And that was that.

Until this summer, when Lynch heard Raitt was coming to play Pinewood, and sent an email to her California office.

“I didn’t want to be pushy, I just wanted to welcome her to Lincoln and say, ‘Hey, I’m the person who sold you the ring.’”

She heard back. Raitt had lost her contact info, but she loved the ring, and would love to see Lynch.

Raitt’s people sent tickets and backstage passes for Lynch and her husband, artist Craig Roper, and the couple joined the happy throng on a sultry September night.

They sat swaying in their up close seats as Raitt ran through a set of old and new tunes, stunning the crowd with her range, charming them as she chatted, her mane of red hair puffing up in the humid night.

And then, somewhere between “Angel From Montgomery” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” she paused and held up her guitar hand.

“I thought, ‘She’s actually going to say something,’” Lynch said.

And she did.

Bonnie Raitt performs at Pinewood Bowl wearing the ring she bought from Lincoln jewelry make Sydney Lynch. © Alan Dzerk

Raitt shared the story of the ring she never takes off and how it has been with her all over the world, and about the amazing woman from Lincoln who designed it, thanking Lynch by name.

There was cheering and a few wild waves from row 8, and then the concert continued.

And when Raitt returned for an encore, she sat down at the piano and played, “Your Sweet and Shining Eyes,” which happens to be Lynch’s favorite Bonnie Raitt song ever.

And before long, Lynch was in a trailer out back, sitting on a corduroy couch with Raitt chatting away — the jewelry maker and the music maker.

“She was funny and she laughed a lot and you could tell she’s a people person. It was like talking to someone I went to college with.”

Raitt wanted to know more about the ring, and Lynch’s husband wanted to know about Raitt’s time playing with Little Feat, and Raitt’s manager kept saying, we’ve got to go, and after 20 or 30 minutes, Raitt left for Red Rocks and her next gig.

Before she left, Roper took pictures of his wife and Raitt.

And the next day he posted a few of them on Facebook, under a very apt heading: “Two Women Who Work with Their Hands.”

Source: © Copyright The Journal Star

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