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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Bonnie Raitt may be best known for slide, but she’s an expert fingerpicker, too

on September 6, 2023 No comments
By Stuart Ryan ( Guitar Techniques )

In this video and tab lesson, we unpack the acoustic fingerstyle approach of one of America’s great songwriters, and give you ideas for how to embellish chords and use inversions.

A legend in the worlds of roots, blues, folk and Americana, US artist Bonnie Raitt was rewarded for her songwriting with the 2023 Grammy for Best Song for her track Just Like That (beating Harry Styles, Adele and Beyoncé). 

Certain factions of the British press subsequently embarrassed themselves by asking who this ‘unknown blues singer’ was – as it happens, Raitt has actually won 13 Grammys over her 50-year career. Commercial acclaim has not evaded her either, and she was already well known for her powerful reading of I Can’t Make You Love Me, Nick of Time and many more. 

Raitt was born in Burbank, California in 1949 and grew up in a musical family. She took up guitar aged eight and taught herself to play the instrument, inspired by the Folk Revival artists of the late 1950s. After a few years studying at Harvard University, she moved to Philadelphia where she began to pursue music seriously.

It didn’t take long for Raitt’s considerable talents to be discovered, and by 1970 she was performing with blues legend Mississippi Fred McDowell. The following year she was signed by Warner Bros records who released her eponymous debut in 1971. While acclaim followed quickly, sales were harder to come by and for much of the 1970s commercial success eluded her.


However, when she met Lowell George in the late 1970s she quickly became influenced by the Little Feat legend’s slide playing and adopted the use of a guitar slide herself. 

A heavier, R&B sound ensued and some commercial success finally arrived with the release of 1977’s Sweet Forgiveness.  However, it wouldn’t be until her 10th album, 1989’s Nick Of Time that she saw real commercial success and a USA chart-topping album. 

Raitt is most commonly associated with her stunning slide playing but she is really a multi-faceted guitarist with a mastery of rootsy, folksy fingerpicking. This month’s study takes a look at how she uses drop D tuning to create textural parts with alternate picking on the bassnotes and the type of rich open chords that are common to that other American legend, Bruce Springsteen.


When it comes to acoustic playing Raitt can go from aggressive, Skip James influenced blues to more gentle self-accompaniment, as is the case with our piece below.

As with many guitarists from the Folk Revival of the 1950s and 1960s she performs with the classic folk style – this means fingerpicks and a thumbpick, the thumb playing alternating basslines over sixth and fourth strings, and the first, second and third fingers taking care of third, second and first strings respectively.

The acoustic guitar is usually used as an accompaniment to her unmatched vocals so expect rolling, arpeggiated picking patterns along with those rich-sounding chord voicings mentioned earlier.

Get the tone

Amp settings: Gain 3, Bass 7, Middle 6, Treble 7, Reverb 2

Bonnie has been using a Guild F-50 jumbo since 1975, but as our picture shows she can stray to smaller-bodied instruments, too. Any acoustic will work well for this style, though a larger guitar will give more volume and projection. Finger and thumbpicks provide more attack but that’s a whole other discipline. I used an Alvarez Masterworks acoustic for the recording.


Playing notes


[Bars 1-16] Don’t forget to tune your sixth string down to D before starting. At the heart of this approach is the alternating bassline between the sixth and fourth strings, and if this is new try cycling bar 1 for a while so the thumb can get used to the pattern.

Then acquaint yourself with the chord shapes as most of the embellishments are built around these. Don’t rush though, as it will affect your tempo and make you power through the beat too quickly.

[Bars 17-32] Adding melodic ideas up on the first and second strings is a common technique in roots, Americana and folk playing. It works particularly well in drop D tuning, as you contrast the low-end weight of the alternating bassline with melodic ideas on the treble strings.

Also check out how artists like Raitt and Bruce Springsteen use inversions of simple open chord shapes to bring more movement and interest to a progression.

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Source: © Copyright Guitar World – Guitar Techniques

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Fine at 50: Bonnie Raitt’s “Takin’ My Time”

on August 19, 2023 No comments
By Joe Vincenza

There are so many people in the music business who never ever get the attention they deserve (and too many who get a lot more attention than they should, but that is another story). Bonnie Raitt is at the top of the list of those who should be more highly regarded than they are. Bonnie has won 13 Grammies, and been nominated 30 times, so it’s not like she’s gone completely ignored. Still, if you ask people to name one of her songs most would be hard pressed to come up with a title, or they would default to one of her most radio friendly successes, her cover of Del Shannon’s “Runaway” (which is indeed awesome to be sure). Or, if they have some savvy on her career “Angel from Montgomery” might be their very appropriate response. Or they might even mention the song that won her a Grammy in 2023 — “Just Like That,” which she wrote as well as performed.


But before all of this, 50 years ago, Bonnie released her third studio album “Takin’ My Time” in the fall of 1973. The 10-song effort was well received by fans and critics, reaching No. 87 on the Billboard Top LP chart that year. As gifted a songwriter as Bonnie is, the choice of material for “Takin’ My Time” was all covers. It turned out to be quite an eclectic mix of songs, influences and styles, ranging from Calypso, to blues, to ballads, to a jaunty version of “Let Me In” a tune recorded in 1961 by The Sensations.

All the songs work, but by the time you get to track 10, you’re not really sure where you’ve been, or where Bonnie was going with all this. Being eclectic is double edged — it shows a wealth of influences, but can leave the listener a bit windblown some 40 minutes later. But, don’t worry about that — this record lasts! If there were one thing that I would change, it’s that we don’t get to hear nearly enough of Bonnie playing guitar, she’s there, but rarely do these particular songs lend the space needed for her to demonstrate her chops. It was a choice she made, so be it. Bonnie has always insisted on complete create control over her work, another reason she garners so much admiration and respect from her fellow musicians.

See, that’s the thing about Bonnie — being honest and true in what you do, it lasts. She could put this record out now (or redo the songs with more contemporary structure) and it would sound perfectly in place.

The first track “You’ve Been in Love Too Long” is an up-tempo funky start to the set, and it’s a genre Bonnie handles just fine. That’s followed by the sweet ballad “I Gave My Love a Candle,” which she presents with equal expertise (Bonnie knows ballads!). The aforementioned “Let Me In” comes next, and it’s sprinkled with Creole seasoning giving it a fun Nola flavor. The rest of the tracks are all equally fine, mixing in some blues, some mid-tempo pop, and even a calypso-flavored song. Mose Allison, Randy Newman, Jackson Browne all get writing credits on these songs, so you know the material is good.


Speaking of Jackson Browne, he has done many many benefit concerts for schools throughout the years. I happened to attend one in 1995, benefiting a special needs school in Arizona. The location for the concert was in the middle of the desert in a natural amphitheater. The lineup featured Jackson of course, Shawn Colvin, and Bonnie Raitt, among many. It was so great to see her live, she was just as real and honest as her music, and I’m happy to have been there (even though it was Arizona, and the desert, and summertime).

There really aren’t any bad Bonnie Raitt records. If you’re around for 50 years, some of your work is bound to be better, some not so much. “Takin’ My Time” definitely stands the test of time, and it’s one of the better, even half a century later.

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Source: © Copyright WUWF 88.1

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