Raitt Delivers Down-Home Show

In a recent concert, the singer interspersed spunky blues with reminiscences of her club days

BENEATH a sliver of the moon in late-summer weather just right for sweatshirts, Bonnie Raitt recently delivered a spunky collection of her earlier blues favorites and her newer pop-blues to a capacity-crowd at the Great Woods Center for the Performing Arts here.

She's in the midst of a national tour, with performances scheduled through Sept. 15. (See schedule at left.)

Ms. Raitt, suited with her acoustic guitar, opened with "Any Day Woman," which she hasn't sung at concerts for some time. Her bass player, James "Hutch" Hutchinson, a Somerville, Mass., native, accompanied her on stage.

The concert had a friendly, down-home feel. Raitt paid homage to many of her friends in the audience from her days living in Cambridge, Mass.

Raitt, who now lives in Los Angeles, came to Cambridge in 1967 to attend Radcliffe College. She quickly developed a following after playing in many Boston-area clubs.

She talked about musician buddies here who influenced her career and dedicated songs to those present, including a tender performance of "Only One" for her husband, Michael O'Keefe.

Raitt kept the crowd on fire by chatting and reminiscing between songs. Before she sang Chris Smither's "Love Me Like a Man," which she dedicated to another Cambridge musician/pal, Reeve Litte, she yelled, "Turn this guitar up. I need some ammo." Her fans went wild.

The audience, paying tribute to Raitt's local start and 20 some years in the business, represented the whole gamut - there were white-haired fans, moms with their daughters, families, and young people with tears and patches in their blue jeans.

They arrived in everything from stretch limos to Fords and Volkswagons. Near the amphitheater's entrance, Harley-Davidsons lined the edge of the lot. Early tunes revisited

Raitt pulled several songs from her earliest albums including "Nobody's Girl" and the Sippie Wallace advice-giving blues "Woman be Wise" that in typical Raitt fashion warns: "Keep your mouth shut; don't advertise your man."

She continued her discourse with the audience, talking about her recent overseas tour, how she planned to take time off when she returned to the States to write some new songs but decided to book Great Woods instead. "I just couldn't stay away. You'll have to put up with some of my old songs for a while." Screams, howls, whistles, and applause followed.

Raitt still has her political causes and managed to get in her digs. She spoke in favor of protecting the environment and pro-choice, explaining that a portion of the concert proceeds would benefit Planned Parenthood. "We're going to work to get a lot of pro-choice candidates in and you-know-who out," she said.

Songs sung from her newer albums included John Hiatt's "Thing Called Love" and "Something to Talk About."

Raitt sang "Good Man Good Woman" with keyboardist Glen Clark replacing Delbert McClinton who sings the part on her latest album, "Luck of the Draw." Raitt teased him unmercifully about looking like someone from the "Home-Boy's Shopping Network" because he was wearing a baseball cap backward and sunglasses.

Again singling out her old friends from the area, she shouted, "I love you guys. I've known you since I was a young pup of 18." To them, she dedicated "Nick of Time" and said, "Here's to middle age."

She ended the concert to a standing ovation and three encores, including "I Can't Make You Love Me," from her last album. Lovett opened the show

Raitt had a tough act to follow. Lyle Lovett opened the show, and he, too, closed his set to a standing ovation. His band played more of a gospel mixed with blues than the country that Mr. Lovett is known for. His full stage included three male gospel singers and featured Francine Reed- a powerful blues singer from Phoenix - who belted out a solo that resonated through the amphitheater (my ears are still ringing), then a duet with Lovett to close.

If anything was missing in the evening's entertainment, it was a double-billed show. Lovett's music was as good and as appreciated as Raitt's, and the two could have closed together and even included Francine Reed for a real treat.

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