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Raitt rates multiple ovations at Tent

on August 15, 2009 No comments

Cape Cod Melody Tent, Hyannis, MA, USA.

HYANNIS – If you were from Mars and had no idea why Bonnie Raitt sold multiple platinum records and had garnered nine Grammys, or why she sold out the Melody Tent almost as soon as tickets went on sale this spring, you only had to listen to her sing “Angel From Montgomery” at the tent last night.

Raitt’s voice is sure-footed. It can soar effortlessly and put emotion into even a spoken verse. It’s stripped-down, raw when it needs to be, but is also elegant, or bluesy, or hard rocking.

It’s the range of emotions she can convey from note to note that sets her apart.
Written by John Prine, “Angel” tells the story of a woman trapped in a loveless marriage, desperate for a way out, but realizing this might just be it. Raitt included the song on 1974′s Streetlights album, and even though she’s sung it countless times in a long career, last night, before a packed house, it was like she was singing the verses and feeling them for the first time.

With Raitt, there just doesn’t seem to be that filter between what she’s feeling and what she’s singing. Emotions just flow naturally from soul to voice. Which is what the blues are all about, and one can understand why she’s always had such an affinity for the genre. After moving to Cambridge in the late ’60s, she learned to play blues guitar and became an opening act for blues giants including Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker.

Last night, she introduced blues singer and musician Taj Mahal as one of her heroes. The pair had a natural musical rapport on stage, with the give-and-take of a man with needs, and the woman who knows what’s really on his mind. Both skilled musicians, they traded licks on guitars and went toe-to-toe vocally. They rocked on old blues numbers such as “I’m Built for Comfort, But I Ain’t Built for Speed” and had fun with songs including “Good Man Good Woman” and Taj Mahal’s “She Caught the Katy (And Left Me a Mule to Ride).”

But Raitt has a large catalogue of songs, and she took time to play some audience favorites from one of her best-selling albums. The band cruised on “Something to Talk About” from 1991′s Luck of the Draw, and on “Love Letter” from 1989′s Nick of Time.
Raitt is all about the power of sex and desire in the first flush of love, then the wistful longing for love when it fades. Her rendition of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” from Luck of the Draw was musical poetry. Somehow her voice can convey both the pain of lying next to someone in the dark, and realizing that the love you have will never be returned, along with the courage it takes to move on.

The night was a fun mix of genres, incorporating everything from country to reggae, jazz, rock, and of course, the blues. An appreciative sold-out audience gave back standing ovations on nearly every song.

Source: © Copyright Cape Cod Times

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Harmonic convergence

Full of mutual admiration and praise, two musical icons finally share a tour

on August 14, 2009 No comments

By James Reed – Globe Staff / August 14, 2009

Bonnie Raitt isn’t kidding when she forewarns that you probably won’t get in a word edgewise when she and Taj Mahal lock into a conversation. “We interview ourselves and occasionally let you guys have a question,’’ she says, laughing.

You can’t blame them, of course. These two have a lot to talk about, from fond memories of their early days in Boston to shared musical influences (blues legends and unsung ’60s singers like Judy Henske and Judy Roderick) to, maybe most of all, their mutual admiration.

After 40 years of friendship, Raitt and Mahal have just launched a new joint tour called BonTaj Roulet, which comes to the Bank of America Pavilion tomorrow. (Tonight’s show at the Cape Cod Melody Tent is sold out.)

Raitt, 59, and Mahal, 67, got their professional starts around here, but their paths never crossed. He was born in Harlem but grew up in Springfield and later attended UMass-Boston and vividly remembers playing at Club 47 (now Club Passim). By the time Raitt arrived in 1967 as a freshman at Radcliffe College, Mahal had cleared out to California, but they eventually met through Dick Waterman, Raitt’s mentor back then. Raitt befriended Mahal when she opened for him at Skidmore College in the early ’70s, and he ended up coproducing her classic 1973 album, “Takin’ My Time.’’

When we spoke last month, Raitt and Mahal hadn’t ironed out the logistics for their tour, aside from exchanging wish lists of songs they’d like to perform together. The show will feature solo sets from each artist, along with a 30-minute closing segment together. Raitt mentions they’re especially proud that they’ve tried to keep ticket prices low in this tough economy, and some proceeds will benefit social causes determined by fans’ feedback at

Following is an edited transcript of our feisty, half-hour conversation that, just as she predicted early on, Raitt and Mahal deftly guided and turned into a history lesson on four decades of playing the blues.

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Little Kids Rock Students Sit in on BonTaj Soundcheck

on August 11, 2009 No comments


BonTaj Roulet Recollection

Picture this scenario: You’re 11 years old, from Jersey City, and can’t afford a guitar. Your teacher brings you and six classmates to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), a jewel of a theater in the middle of Newark, to meet blues legends Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal. You pull out the brand-new, custom Fender® acoustic guitar that was just gifted to you and relinquish it to Taj, who tunes it, plays a funky riff, and hands it back. All you can do is look at your friend with wide eyes and say, “Taj Mahal just played my guitar!”

That is the sentiment that could be seen on the face of one of the seven fortunate students from P.S. 29 who received an exclusive pre-concert performance from the two rockstars at the show’s soundcheck. The duo is in the middle of a tour called BonTaj Roulet, which is raising funds and awareness for various charities.

Bonnie’s guitar sizzled while Taj blew the blues on his harp. Her fiery red hair and smooth singing complimented his cool straw hat and booming, raspy voice. They came down off the stage after introducing their bands and answered questions from the aspiring rock ‘n’ rollers.

“These are some of the best questions I’ve ever been asked,” Taj said as he looked at Bonnie, who nodded in agreement. “Do you want to take this one?”

“Sure,” she responded, and explained to the children that, yes, she does sometimes get homesick while touring, and no, she didn’t get to where she is without putting in hours upon hours of hard work.

Bonnie and Taj continued to provide answers and anecdotes to the kids, who clutched the new acoustic guitars with which Little Kids Rock surprised them. They were amazed to find out that they were the first people in the world to own the ESC-80 educational model Fender® acoustic guitar, which was custom-made for Little Kids Rock.

In the lobby, with their new guitars in hand and a camera pointed their way, the Little Kids Rock guitar class from Jersey City huddled around Taj, who emitted an aura of cool, and Bonnie, whose flowing, red hair with the signature white stripe was the picture’s centerpiece.

Several fans snapped pictures from outside, reminding Bonnie and Taj that their scheduled performance was rapidly approaching, and they had yet to eat dinner. However, they told the kids to line up so that they could each get an individual photo with the pair before they left to perform for several thousand fans.

“Keep playing,” Bonnie said as she headed backstage. “You’ll get here one day.”

Source: © Copyright Little Kids Rock

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