Thursday, October 27, 2016

Review: Bonnie Raitt's welcome return to Ovens

When Bonnie Raitt sat down at the piano beside keyboardist Mike Finnigan to play the title track off her Grammy winning 1989 commercial breakthrough “Nick of Time,” there was such an arms-in-the-air eruption from the crowd you’d have thought the Panthers scored a touchdown. 

The crowd for Raitt’s return to Ovens Auditorium Wednesday was subdued and respectful (though obviously not dead), even following the instructions to put away their phones and enjoy the show in real time, per the pre-show announcement. Maybe that’s why their response wasn’t soft golf claps between juggled drinks and electronics. And honestly, it was nice not to have 30 phones bobbing in the air at any given time during the show (although it made it hard to take notes) – she did allow photos during the final song.

That attentiveness was reflected on stage as well. Less a “show” and more of a performance, Raitt and her band were of course supremely rehearsed (although with the caliber of musicians on stage little rehearsal is necessary), but it wasn’t the kind of rehearsed that results in the same show night after night. Her banter seemed genuine as did her interpretations of the songs, which change to some degree in order and choice nightly. 

Following the California Honeydrops (the hand-picked Bay Area jazz and blues-inspired funk and soul act who have been on the tour since March), Raitt sauntered on stage in a leather and sparkle accented blue top and straight legged slacks looking, at least from the crowd, as if she hadn’t aged since “Nick of Time.” 

Although she wrote a number of songs on her new album “Dig in Deep” (like the moving “All Alone with Something to Say,”), she often chose the standout covers like her opener, INXS’ “Need You Tonight” and later a rollicking version of Los Lobos’ “Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes.” But Raitt is as much an interpreter of ongs as she is a vocalist and slide guitar player, both of which were spot-on. Has she ever known a bad note? She chose to honor her influences and mentors throughout the night playing Sippie Wallace’s “Woman Be Wise,” Skip James’ “Devil Got My Woman,” and letting Finnigan take lead on B.B. King’s “Don’t Answer the Door.” 

Although hits like “Something To Talk About” and “Thing Called Love” were crowd favorites that had folks dancing in the aisles, it was just as fun to see Raitt and the band breakout of the blues and adult contemporary by taking on spiritual world music with Zimbabwean musician/activist Oliver Mtukudzi’s “Hear Me Now” and the encore of Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House.” 

Of course, Raitt couldn’t leave without belting out “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” which she sang slow and purposeful as if to demonstrate the depth of the ache in the lyrics. 

Raitt may technically be retirement age – she turns 67 on election day – but she shows no desire to pull back from the road. Her passion for playing and her audience’s passion for her playing remains vibrant nearly five decades into her career. And the show served as a reminder of why she’s remains such a revered presence today.   

Thursday, October 6, 2016

This week's hot concerts

Jennifer Nettles
Friday 8 p.m., Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St., $34.50-$69.50/$79.50 VIP,
Before she was frontwoman for arena-hopping country duo Sugarland, Nettles was an Atlanta-based blues-rock singer belting out numbers at clubs like Visulite. Now a Grammy winner whose ventured into Broadway as “Chicago’s” Roxy Hart and acting (Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors”), Nettles got back to music earlier this year with her second solo album. “Playing With Fire.”
So Fest So Clean Festival
Friday and Saturday 9 p.m., Petra’s, 1919 Commonwealth Ave.; 9:30 p.m. The Station, 2131 Central Ave.; 10 p.m. Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $7 per show per night; $5 additional admission to other venues each night,
If you’re new to Charlotte or just curious about the local scene, this two-day, three venue Plaza-Midwood festival and neighborhood clean-up drive is an economical way to sample CLT music. Each club has three to five acts each night. Shadowgraphs, Jaggermouth, Dollar Signs, Ravages, Tigerdog, Known Ghost, and Totally Slow are a handful of Friday’s bands, while Saturday’s lineup includes Time Sawyer, It’s Snakes, Elonzo Wesley, Modern Primitives, Dollhands, Sinners & Saints, the halves and america is a mistake.
Latin American Festival
Saturday 12 to 8 p.m., Symphony Park, South Park Mall, 4400 Sharon Rd., $5, Kids 8 and under free,
The Latin American Coalition’s 26th annual cultural festival features a marketplace filled with food, visual art, and crafts and dance and music performances featuring Grammy winning international acts like Nicaragua’s prince of Salsa - singer-songwriter and percussionist Luis Enrique, 30 year Venezuelan ska vets Desorden Publico, L.A.-based La Santa Cecilia, a Mexican-American act that blends rock and world music with Latin culture, and a Caique Vidal & Batuque, who mix the music of Bahia with Afro-Brazilian and folkloric dance.
Bad Religion/Against Me!
Saturday 7:30 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $29.50,
Pairing a legendary punk agitator, Bad Religion with a band that’s bound for a legendary future on the Vox Populi tour makes for a fitting election year, HB2 state bill. BR hasn’t played a non-Warped Tour Charlotte gig in a generation and Against Me’s transgender frontwoman’s public transition and openness about her struggle has created a fresh perspective in songwriting. She’s actually telling stories we haven’t heard before.
Carl Broemel
Saturday 8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $15-$18,
You’ll probably never get a chance to see My Morning Jacket in a room as small as this NoDa institution, but you can witness MMJ guitarist Broemel up close when he stops in on tour for his solo album “4th of July.” His pleasant vocals give nod to classic bands, but his psychedelic guitar work gives “4th” a darker, modern spin. In fact, its trippy, fully-realized sound is on par with his day job’s output.
Elephant Revival
Saturday 8:45 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15-$18,
Dan Rodriguez and Bonnie Paine – primary singers for this orchestral folk quintet – bring such different voices to the string-laced compositions of hope and darkness on its latest album “Petals,” yet there’s a unity and cohesiveness present especially when they sing together. His delivery is matter-of-fact, while she is a spiritual daughter of emotive singers Sinaed O’Connor and Sarah McLachlan with her own unique delicacy and rasp.
Ceschi Ramos
Sunday 7 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $10,
Since its revitalization 12 years ago, the Milestone Club has become a family that extends to touring artists who frequent it and fall in love with the club, staff, and patrons. This rapper/singer-songwriter who defies easy classification is one such artist. One on hand he’s toured with indie hip-hop leaders like Astronautilus and Busdriver, but as a one man band he’s all over the musical map from punk to folk.
Chrome Sparks
Tuesday 8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $12-$15,
Brooklyn based producer, musician and DJ Jeremy Malvin (aka Chrome Sparks) makes electronic music that’s equally thumping and cinematic. With a balance of foreboding and exciting, tacks on his new EP “Parallelism,” which relies on friends’ vocal samples, three synthesizers, and a tambourine, would be as at home on the dancefloor as they would a movie screen.