Concert Review

A Sultry Evening with Lucinda Williams at NCMA

It was a hot Wednesday evening at the outdoor amphitheater at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Muggy, humid, and as Lucinda Williams described, “sultry”.  I thought to myself, of course we’re enjoying the sultry weather,  as I usually describe her voice as such. For those unfamiliar with Lu’s sound,  I like to say that if Janis Joplin and Dolly Parton had a baby, it would be Lucinda Williams.

It was a late start for the show.  Someone spoke of Lucinda’s potential stage fright, but I think it was more that she was waiting for the hot sun to go completely down before starting to rock. Blake Mills, an unannounced opener, played mellow guitar before Lu came out. Blake Mills is the former  guitarist for indie rock band Band of Horses, and has been playing backup guitar for various artists. We were to discover one of the artists he has been playing guitar with was none other than Lucinda herself. Some members of the audience were pleased with his work, while some other die-hard Lu fans thought he wasn’t doing the songs justice. What do you think?

Speaking of die-hard Lu fans, there definitely is a type. They are strong, middle aged women with husbands (or partners) who usually wear button-up Hawaiian shirts to concerts.  They enjoy picnics from Whole Foods and probably drive Subaru Outbacks. I love these fans. They get up and dance during their favorite songs, shamelessly and happily.  Lucinda provided their favorite songs – Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, Greenville, Blue, and many others. What’s your favorite Lucinda tune?

Her lifelong fans, the aforementioned dancing middle aged women, enjoyed the show. Me, a less-than-middle aged woman, found that I prefer the recorded versions. They sound fuller, deeper, and of course, can be heard out of the 100 degree heat.  Despite the heat and the sounds hanging in the muggy air, it was a good show. Most current popular female country/rock  stars lack the depth Lucinda carries. It was a musical treat most young women my age will not get to experience.

If you’ve never been to a show at NCMA, its a great venue. You just feel sophisticated sitting there. Bring a chair or a blanket and some snacks, and you’ll thoroughly enjoy yourself. Their line up this summer has been amazing and is consistently great from year to year. Next week, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings will take the stage. Definitely a show you do not want to miss. If you like the music of Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch, check out WKNC’s Americana, Blues, and Company every Saturday from 10-noon.