Western Swing. Gospel. Big Band. Blues. Americana. Bluegrass.
Referring to a performance by Lyle Lovett and His Large Band as a country music show is beyond being an understatement. Featuring an 11 (to my count) piece backing band, including a brass section, multiple string instruments, a fiddler and an incredible vocalist (Francine Reed), Lovett performed last night at the Hard Rock Rocksino in Northfield, OH, just outside of Cleveland.
I’ll be honest. I’ve mentioned in many previous posts here at BORN Country, that I had belonged to multiple CD-by-mail clubs when I was much younger, such as Columbia House and BMG. With no internet at the time, my only other source for music was mainstream country radio. Every month, my little catalog would arrive and I would scour each page. I recall that a name would consistently pop up in the listings that I had no clue as to who it was. There was no Lyle Lovett being played on my local country music stations! Being a kid, I of course never gave in to the temptation of buying something that I had never heard.
My experience with Lyle Lovett’s music had stayed that way (minimal) over the years until the last half decade or so. Boy, do I wish now that I would’ve taken that risk back in the mid-90s!
When I found out that not only would Lyle Lovett be playing in town, but also coming with his legendary Large Band, I knew that I had to be there. I wasn’t completely sure what to expect, but the performance quickly solidified the show as one of my favorites that I have attended in 2016.
The show kicked off with an instrumental performance of “The Blues Walk,” highlighting each band member as an introduction of sorts. After the song, Lyle would take the stage, accompanied by ANOTHER ten or so person choir to join in on the opening of the show. I’m not much of a church goer myself, but the twenty plus group of musically talented people on stage put on a performance of Lovett’s song “Church” that had me rethinking it!
Sharing stories from throughout his 30 year recording career, (Lovett’s self-titled debut album was released in 1986.), Lyle joked around with his band and the huge Rocksino crowd. The Large Band is made up of musicians from all walks of life. A member of the brass section, at “75 years young” has played with the likes of the Rolling Stones and Aretha Franklin. Another band member is a college professor out of Texas who spends his summers touring with Lyle. At two points throughout the 24 song set, Lyle turned the stage over to fiddler, Luke Bulla, who performed “Temperance Reel” and the above mentioned, Francine Reed, belting out an amazing “Wild Women Don’t Get The Blues.”
My favorite songs of the evening included “Penguins,” “If I Had A Boat,” “Here I Am” and “That’s Right, You’re Not From Texas.”
Seeing Lyle perform with the Large Band was absolutely incredible. I’d love to get a chance one day, to see Lyle play a set on his own or on a smaller scale to compare what I am sure are two completely different worlds.