Disclaimer: In the interest of transparency, I will reveal that I’m writing this remembrance a half year after the event, which was on July 1, 2018. However, it was such a wonderful experience, I feel I must mark it in some meaningful way, even as tardy as I am.
This is one of those amazing events that you occasionally stumble upon, entirely by accident. I had heard that Ry Cooder was touring, and knowing the my friend Victor is a big fan, I had done a little research to see where he’d be playing. I think there was a local show, but then I saw, to my astonishment, that he would be performing with the legendary Emmylou Harris — at Tanglewood, no less!
I’ve never seen either of them, so this was too good to pass up. I had been to Tanglewood Music Center, summer home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It was with my parents, when I was very young, and it was most certainly for classical music, which Mom and Dad favored.
This time, Victor and I took the drive out to Lenox, Massachusetts, for a well-deserved road trip. Just getting away from my demons and the mile-long To Do list was well worth the time and expense. Lenox is a charming town in the Berkshires. The entire area, once you exit the Mass Pike, is laid back and relaxing.
And the show? Magnificent. Emmylou opened (imagine that goddess as an opening act!), and her glorious music was matched only by her warm, funny and humble spirit. Her band was great, with fiddle, banjo, guitar and drums accompaniment, but her powerful vocals were front and center, as they should be. Yes, she still sounds great. You can see the setlist, and suffice it to say, several tears were shed throughout the course of her set. And when Townes‘ goosebump-inducing “Pancho and Lefty” came around, I was done for.
After a brief intermission, Ry Cooder and his band took the stage. Augmenting his tight band was North Carolina R&B trio the Hamiltones, whose breathtaking tenor vocals and close harmonies brought the classy proceedings to an even higher level. There were rockers, there were ballads, there was a lot of delicious sax and of course, Cooder’s trademark slide guitar. Yowsa. Special ‘shout out’ to Robert Francis, an awesome musician in his own right, whom I was stunned and delighted to see grooving along on bass guitar.
Tanglewood, yes, is a bit of a hike, but as an acoustically marvelous amphitheater, it’s one of the best places to see your favorite musicians. If you have the ways and means, do it!share this: