just like that tour 2022

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Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples sizzle and soar at San Diego concert showcasing vital American roots music

on September 28, 2022 No comments

By George Varga

There is nothing outwardly professorial in appearance or demeanor about Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples, whose joint 2022 tour concluded Tuesday night in San Diego with a sold-out concert at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.

But the vibrant performances by these supremely skilled artists were a master class in musical excellence, emotional fervor and the art of simultaneously entertaining and uplifting an audience.

It was also a life-affirming celebration of blues, gospel, funk, soul, rock and other homegrown American music styles that sizzled and soared, thanks to Raitt, Staples and their superb bands.

And it was a welcome testimonial to the durability and enduring vitality of these two long-acclaimed artists — both are Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award-winners and unwaveringly devoted social activists.

Early in her set, Raitt pointed out the Ukrainian flag she had draped in solidarity on the stage. At the end of the night, she implored her audience: “Don’t forget to vote!”

Staples, who marched and performed at landmark civil rights events in the 1950s and ‘60s, spoke out against voter suppression, political brinksmanship that treats refugees as pawns, and about the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning a woman’s right to choose.

“We need to get our house in order,” she declared to cheers. “I think I’ll run for president myself. Vote for me!” Later in the evening, Staples earned a high-profile endorsement. “I’d vote for Mavis,” Raitt said.

That neither Raitt nor Staples is the retiring type, literally or figuratively, was handily reaffirmed during their respective performances before a loudly enthusiastic audience of 4,700.

Staples, 83, sang for 50 minutes with her two-woman, three-man band, while Raitt, 72, was on stage for just under 100 minutes with her five-man band. Each clearly relished the opportunity to be back in action, after seeing multiple 2020 and 2021 tour dates fall through because of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown of live events.

“This is our 50th year on the road — those (last) two-and-a-half years of ‘house arrest’ were really rough,” Raitt said, following her fourth selection, “Blame It On Me,” an intensely bluesy new ballad.

“We made it!” Staples exulted after belting out “Handwriting on the Wall.”

It was the fourth of the nine selections the diminutive Chicago vocal fireball did during her rousing opening set. She began with “Come Go With Me” and ended with an extended version of “I’ll Take You There,” which featured Staples exuberantly singing charged call-and-response vocal exchanges with the audience and with her band members’ concise instrumental solos.

After mistakenly referring to San Diego as San Francisco, she said teasingly: “I’m old!”

At 83, Staples is — undeniably — a senior citizen and she sometimes glanced at a small screen attached to her microphone stand to help her remember an errant song lyric. But she performed with an ardor that talented vocalists half or a quarter her age would be thrilled to achieve.

Granted, Staples conserved her energy at times. But she did so by design, the better to then unleash a might roar that could make the most secular of listeners contemplate divine inspiration anew. And Staples happily sang Raitt’s praises, at one point joking that she had “adopted” Raitt 40 years ago.

Bonnie Raitt and her band delivered a wonderfully spirited San Diego concert Tuesday night at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. She is shown above during an April 7 performance on the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” TV show. (Randy Holmes / ABC via Getty Images)

Wonderfully impassioned

In turn, Raitt extolled Staples several times from the stage. Their mutual admiration society made it somewhat surprising that the two opted not to do a song together, as they did on their previous joint tour a decade ago. But that did not detract from the pleasure of hearing them perform separately Tuesday.

Raitt opened her set with “Made Up Mind,” the percolating, midtempo number that kicks off “Just Like That …”, her splendid new album.

She concluded, 15 songs later, with a joyously rocking version of The Fabulous Thunderbirds’ 1981 rave-up, “I Believe I’m in Love With You.” It featured blazing six-string work by Raitt, her two guitarists — George Marinelli and Duke Levine — and Rick Holmstrom, the fleet-fingered guitarist in Staples’ band.

Raitt’s expertly paced set equally showcased her wonderfully impassioned singing and tart guitar work. Depending on the song, she sounded tender and reflective, playful and boisterous, wise or wide-eyed.

She excelled whether gently essaying her haunting ballad, “Nick of Time,” romping through the John Hiatt-penned “No Business,” or exploring new musical terrain on the jazz-funk-fueled “Waiting For You to Blow,” one of five standout songs she performed Tuesday from her latest album.

Just as good was hard-rocking “Livin’ for the Ones,” which boasted one of the best Rolling Stones’ riffs not written by the Stones. Raitt’s lyrics thoughtfully paid tribute to lost loved ones, including her late brother, while also expressing gratitude for being alive.

“ ‘Living for the Ones’ is the one song on my new album that I wrote during the pandemic,” Raitt noted in a Union-Tribune interview earlier this year.

““That’s how I started feeling when I lost my brother in 2009 and he couldn’t walk or see in last six months of his life. Whenever you’re living with somebody who is losing the ability to live, you very quickly stop complaining about your own pains. So I had a lot of practice (for the pandemic).”

Another song from her new album, the exquisite title track of “Just Like That…,” also examined issues of mortality and redemption. But it did so from the perspective of a heart transplant recipient meeting the mother of the dead young man whose heart now beat anew in the transplant recipient’s body.

Raitt’s remarkably tender vocals were delivered with a grace befitting the stirring subject matter. The wordless refrain she sang evoked an age-old Celtic ballad. It was a standout moment, even in a concert that had an ample number of moving moments.

There was also levity, including Raitt’s sly aside that she likes a “big bottom” (her reference was to the low end in her onstage sound mix). She gave fond shout-outs to family members and friends in the audience, as well as to two musical pals who were present — San Diego troubadour Joel Rafael and former Honk and Funky Kings band mainstay Richard Stekol.

Raitt and Staples each performed Tuesday with vigor and a palpable generosity of spirit. They treated their newest and oldest songs as living, breathing vehicles of artistic expression, not rote, paint-by-numbers exercises. They each dug deep to inject fresh verve and welcome musical twists into classics they have performed for decades.

Witness Raitt’s sublime versions of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and “Angel from Montgomery.” She sang both with an aching tenderness that brought some concertgoers to tears. While she stayed true to the essence of both — the latter written by her longtime friend, John Prine, who succumbed to COVID two years ago — Raitt’s nuanced vocal phrasing and instrumental arrangements added welcome new dimensions to songs she and her fans know inside out.

Mavis Staples sang with fervor Tuesday night at the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. She is shown above performing at the Kite Festival in Oxfordshire, England, in June. (David Corio / Redferns)

‘I’ll be back!’

And witness the husky-voiced Staples’ ebullient renditions of “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take You There,” two gems she first recorded in the early 1970s as a member of her storied family’s gospel-music group, The Staple Singers. She was just 11 when she became a member in 1950.

“I’ve been taking you there for 74 years and I ain’t tired!” Staples proudly declared. “I ain’t going nowhere! I’ll be back!”

Shortly before the conclusion of her set, Raitt pointed to Staples as a role model for longevity, saying: “If Mavis can do it at 83 …”

Messages from James “Hutch” Hutchinson (brbassman)

(A public service message to the four concertgoers seated directly to the right of table 1517 in the Bayview section Tuesday night: The fact that Bonnie Raitt performed “Something to Talk About” was not an invitation for you to loudly yammer as she sang it. Then again, your blabbing almost non-stop throughout the concert indicates you had plenty to talk about, no matter how rude or distracting your high-decibel chatter fest was to other attendees.)

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Source: © Copyright The San Diego Union-Tribune

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Bonnie Raitt Brings a Big Heart and a Big Voice to the Bowl
Evocative Vocals and Timeless Tunes Bring a Uniquely Joyful Noise to Santa Barbara

on September 26, 2022 No comments

Bonnie Raitt Brings a Big Heart and a Big Voice to the Bowl

By Leslie Dinaberg

With a set list that covered her 51-year career and ranged from ballads to blues to countrified rock, Bonnie Raitt was a definite crowd-pleaser at her September 22 show at the Santa Barbara Bowl. Yes, Raitt’s first album came out in 1971, and she’s been hitting the Bowl stage every few years since 1977. 

It did feel a bit like a reunion night at the beautiful amphitheater — I saw my first Bonnie Raitt show there in 1992, and I feel pretty certain that many of the people in the audience last week were there back then, including several of my parents’ pals popping up in the audience. Bonnie’s famous friends were there too, including Hale Milgrim, David Crosby and — in the front row — an agelessly spry Chubby Checker (“There’s no puberty in my life without Chubby Checker,” said Raitt), who friends say celebrated his 81st birthday at a private party the next night at SOhO.

Playing a mix of old songs and very, very new material from her 2022 album Just Like That… (a title that always makes me think of Sex and the City, but there’s certainly no obvious connection), Raitt’s heartfelt ballads were definitely the standouts for me. “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” sounded as sweetly sad as it did as the ultimate heartbreak song when it came out in 1991. And a beautiful, deeply emotional, and personal version of her dear friend and collaborator John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” is still pleasantly stuck in my head a few days later. So is her introduction of the 1971 classic tune (“I’ve sung this song for so many reasons and for so many decades”) with a dedication to Prine, who died in April 2020 from complications due to COVID.

Her 2022 song “Livin’ for the Ones” — co-written with her longtime guitarist George Marinelli — was a more rocking riff on the theme of loss. As she said, “Putting powerful emotions into songs like this is the best remedy I know. Here’s to living for the ones who are no longer with us.”

And ever the crowd pleasers, Raitt and her band — Marinelli on guitar, bassist James “Hutch” Hutchinson, drummer Ricky Fataar, Glenn Patscha on keyboards and backing vocals, and guitarist Kenny Greenberg Duke Levine — played no shortage of familiar favorites like “Not the Only One,” “Love Sneakin’ Up on You,” “Nick of Time,” and “Something to Talk About” — which fans happily sang and bopped along to. My favorite of the older tunes was “Have a Heart,” where Raitt showed off her considerable guitar chops, as well as her still-stunning vocals. 

At a time in her life when she could still easily be resting on her laurels, it was great to see Bonnie Raitt out there giving it her all and still doing what she does best.

Messages shared by James “Hutch” Hutchinson (#brbassman)

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Source: © Copyright Santa Barbara Independent

Bonnie Raitt at the Santa Barbara Bowl

by Andrea Beenham November 4, 2022
© Ken Friedman

Playing to a sold-out show at the Santa Barbara Bowl, Bonnie Raitt delivered a phenomenal performance that captivated the crowd for over 90 minutes.  Lovingly introduced by Mavis Staples (referring to her as her ‘little sister’), Raitt shared her trademark gravelly vocals and beautiful loving energy behind her petite and sassy powerhouse frame.

Clearly excited to be back performing live after a long hiatus due to lockdown, Raitt held a confident but understated presence throughout the night, and she was humble and appreciative of all in attendance as she delivered what could easily be considered one of her best-ever shows. The capacity crowd included Chubby Checker and Raitt’s former drummer, Tony Braunagel (who each got a shout out from her on stage), along with other musical heavyweights.

© Marina Chavez

“Made Up Mind” from her latest album (Just Like That) opened the set, with Raitt’s stunning clear vocals and guitar work setting the evening off with a mellow gentleness, building quickly with “Love Ain’t Got No Business” (from 2002’s Silver Lining). “Blame It On Me” (another new track from her 2022 album) included a fabulous organ solo from Glenn Patcha, dynamo fatback drumming from Ricky Fataar, and smooth vocals that transitioned into a gravel-accentuated growl. Jumping on the keys for “Nick Of Time,” Raitt continued with a first-ever live performance of “Back Around”—originally recorded with Habib Koite while visiting Mali—and continued on with “Just Like That” (from the newest album), a song written to commemorate the late John Prine (who wrote and first recorded one of Raitt’s best-known hits, “Angel From Montgomery”).

The energy kicked up a notch with singalong favorite, “Something to Talk About” before Raitt delivered another new song, “Livin’ For The Ones’ – another nod to Prine, as well as others we have lost over the past few years. Surprises included her cover of INXS’ “One of My Kind” and a mashup of Chaka Khan / Rufus’ “You Got The Love” with Raitt’s 1994 hit, “Love Sneakin’ Up On You,” which also drew some serious crowd participation. 

The show was rounded out with 1989’s “Have A Heart” and her classic “Angel From Montgomery, before she was summoned for an encore – which was nothing short of magical. Delivering an intimate stripped-back version of “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” the stadium stood in hushed awe, taking in every note, before joining in on “Not The Only One” and “I Believe I’m In Love With You.”

Bonnie Raitt performs in Tucson, Arizona 2019 © C.Elliott

Overall, Raitt’s performance was relaxed and intimate, and her vocals and guitar work were stunning. A consummate professional, she made the delivery of her music look and sound effortless and was quick to point out the luxury of each of us being able to be out enjoying live music in a crowd, while other parts of the world were suffering in a fight for their basic survival. Gracious and appreciative, her music was surpassed only by her loving energy and the words she shared to try and encourage and lift up all in attendance.

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Source: © Copyright Music Connection

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Duke Levine – Bonnie’s New Guitar Man

on September 1, 2022 No comments
by Bob Dragich

After 29 years on the road, Bonnie Raitt guitarist George Marinelli decided to take a break. Stepping into the role will be Boston native Duke Levine.

The youngest of five, Levine had older brothers with Stones and Beatles records along with Paul Butterfield albums featuring Michael Bloomfield on guitar. One brother, Rick, had a band that rehearsed in the basement almost every day. His parents were supportive and didn’t mind the sound of equipment being loaded into the house at midnight after a gig.

Levine’s first guitar was a Yamaha FG75 his dad bought for $42 when Duke was nine. Three years later, he and his Gibson SG Special were in their first band, Landslide, with a bus, a manager, professional sound and lighting, and an abundance of friends serving as roadies.

After high school, he toured for four years with Walter and Valerie Crockett, playing a newer Les Paul and a ’70s Strat. On the recommendation of his teacher, Rich Falco, Levine attended the New England Conservatory of Music. Following graduation, he worked with jazz drummer Bob Moses for four years in the world-beat band Mozamba, and started playing sessions with the multitude of singer/ songwriters in Boston. He did two European tours with Otis Rush, then toured with the Del Fuegos for two years.

Next came a stint with Jonatha Brooke and Jennifer Kimball, a folk-rock duo known as The Story. In 1992, film composer Mason Daring released Levine’s first album, Nobody’s Home, a collection of country and roots songs, followed by two more on Daring Records.

In 1994, working with The Story brought Duke to the attention of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s management, and the following year, he joined her band.

“I had never done anything on that scale before,” he said. “It was her first headline tour, playing arenas.”

Duke has played on seven Carpenter albums, including A Place in the World, Party Doll, Time Sex Love, and, most recently, The Dirt and The Stars. At her encouragement, the end of the record has a three-minute guitar solo.

In 2002, Levine stopped touring with Carpenter and began working with Peter Wolf, doing shows supporting Sleepless. Backing Wolf has been his main gig since.

Prior to becoming part of her band, Levine had played with Raitt once, sitting in on “Angel from Montgomery” when she and Carpenter were on the bill for the 1997 No Nukes concert in Washington, D.C.

James “Hutch” Hutchinson, who has been Raitt’s bass player for 40 years, is a good friend, and when the position became available, Hutch and others recommended him to Raitt. In September of ’21, he got a call during which Raitt assured him that she doesn’t expect anyone to play exactly what someone else played all the time.

After eight January rehearsals in a small Northern California studio, full rehearsals moved to Southern California in March. Levine and Marinelli worked well together; Marinelli will play a number of shows and at times they’ll both be onstage, Levine says, “We’ll figure it out when it happens.

“I love being a side man,” he adds. “Leading my own band helped me as a side man because it gives insight to what someone you’re working for is going through.” With Bonnie, “In general, there’s a lot of leeway and the song doesn’t have to be the same from beginning to end every night.”

Summarizing his career so far, he says, “I never had a plan. You’re just playing with people and one thing leads to another.”

Duke Levine, solo guitar on a ’70s country stalwart!


Here, Duke grabbed his ’60s Teisco SS2L to play a crazy-cool rendition of the 1975 Freddy Fender crossover smash “Before The Next Teardrop Falls” through a ’66 Princeton Reverb.

Levine’s main guitar for the tour is a blond ’63 Tele supplemented by a Supro Duo Tone with the neck pickup removed, a ’50s Relic Strat, and a recently acquired 70s Greco Spacey Sound he calls “a find.” His amp is an early-’60s AC30 head through a Vox cab with two Eminence hempcone speakers. Effects are a Mad Professor Deep Blue delay and Royal Blue overdrive, a Rattler distortion, a Harmonious Monk tremolo, a Waterfall chorus/vibrato from JAM Pedals, and a Source Audio Nemesis delay.

Last year, he released Left to My Own Devices, an EP of solo-guitar arrangements that started as Youtube videos produced in his basement during the pandemic. – Bob Dragich

Vintage Guitar Magazine – September 2022

Source: © Copyright Vintage Guitar Magazine – September 2022

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