Thursday, June 21, 2012
The Slipstream Tour Brings In NYC Summer 2012
We're hitting 100° or good as today. The allergen male pollen-spewing elms planted to take the place of the non-allergen female seed pod bearing elms that the dutch elm diseased killed off in the 70's and 80's continue to spew. What they've been spewing for nearly 12 months already thanks to our warm to hot 2012 Climate Change winter, continues to blow around. This is by way of explaining why anyone with allergies in in NYC is so sick and so miserable, and has been for so long. Of course we must have pollen spewers rather than seed droppers, because sweeping up seeds for about two full weeks a year is outrageous!
So el V, who is terribly subject to pollen-triggered allergies, has been progressively sicker as these last months have rolled. I, my own boring back condition getting worse, began the day in pain, spent the day being pushed around, poked, prodded, hammered, etc. by doctors and technicians, and was hurting worse by end of that than when we began. This is how we went into Ms Raitt's concert and her opening act, the wonderful Mavis Staples, last night, the official opening of summer. El V started feeling better as the music continued – ay-up, he turned to me during Mavis Staples concert, with a smile. He’s not been smiling much these last days ....
Me? I oscillated between fighting off tears, having fun, and admiring Bonnie Raitt: as an artist, singer and songwriter, as guitar slinger*, as CEO and administrator. Re her stage presence, she got balls a big as any guitar slinger you can name but is more of gentleman than any of them, and she's all woman. This is what our young girls need to see. A woman of honed talent who owns not only the stage but her life. The foundations she supports do real good in the world -- they focus mostly on the environment and child hunger. She vets each one personally (she alone raised almost $400,000 for the New Orleans's musicians after the Failure of the Levees).
Her organization is hers. She owns it, she runs it. The organization in its various parts reflects its owner- operator -- runs smoothly, does a brilliant job, and the members are as fierce in their loyalty as are Ms. Raitt's fans. As it is with singers, their fans and audiences feel a very deep personal connection, a connection into which you plunge at every one of her performances.
Last night Ms Raitt threw out exuberant homage and credit to a wide range of other singer-songwriter-guitar slingers-musicians, from "my Celtic roots," Irish singers-songwriters, to Levon Helm, to the grand old bluesmen with whom she's spent so much of her life, to Mavis Staples and her father. When Mavis sang about we'll keep going on that freedom road, after speaking so movingly about Martin Luther King, I really did cry, if only because that freedom seems so much further away in too many ways now than ever. When Bonnie joined her "big sister" Mavis in "The Circle Will be Unbroken," I also wept -- which people who know me very well would never ever expect. It's because feel I understand these songs so much better at this period of our national life than I did earlier, even as the hope and optimism these songs embody has been torn to shreds by politicians and corporations and the media they own.
In her own part of the concert Ms. Raitt performed several cuts from the new album, Slipstream,some of the originals as well as some covers, including one of my favorite Dylan numbers from his own later albums. She moved effortlessly from raucous rock numbers whanging one of her many guitars, to the intimacy of sitting bare (i.e. sans guitars) and solitary on a stool in the dark, addressing a heart-wrenching lament of forgiveness and letting go to a lover who can't love the lyrics’ voice.
Every time I have had the opportunity to hear Bonnie Raitt there are new aspects of her shows to enjoy. She can be a sprite as much as she can be a comedian, a wielder of thunderous guitar power to – why, yes, she remembers your name! Touring and the stage are her life, and that means a meaningful social life. It allows her to keep up face-to-face with her many friends, the list which keeps growing, because she's that kind of person. You never know who will be with at her ‘parties,’ but you know you will know others there. There may be kids and babies too. Bonnie gives herself to her fans, the journalists, and the charitable foundations that she works with.
Last night someone in the audience yelled, "Bonnie for President." In all honesty, we could -- and we certainly are going to -- do much, much worse.
The tour, which started 2 months ago, goes through November, so there may well be opportunity for you to make this experience possible for your daughters ....
*To see this petite, graceful flame-haired goddess with her signature front white witch locks in a guitar slinger circle of otherwise all guys, all of them at the top of the game of this kind of ballad-rock-blues musicianship is something every little girl should see before she's 12. In comparison to Raitt, those lip-synching stadium acts who depend on extremity of costume and vid projections for their fame and fortune look like what they are: faux musicians.