Tuesday, March 18, 2008

craft vs. passion

Whenever I see that Bonnie Raitt, a part-time Bay Area resident, is playing close to home, I make every effort to attend. I've gone to quite a number of the storied singer and slide guitarist's shows over the years, but some of the most memorable performances (for me) have been when she's sat in at a friend's show. Listening to her sing "It's a Blessing" with Maria Muldaur a few years back qualified as a spiritual experience. So when Sally forwarded a Yoshi's announcement that she'd be sitting in with the songwriter booked at the new SF Yoshi's I quickly bought a ticket, even though the singer, Richard Julian, was unknown to me, and I think most West Coast music fans. Julian, a New Yorker, is getting some good press and his act was polished, and his songs well crafted. The 10pm show wasn't that well attended, and I have a feeling most of the ticket sales came from the announcement and the Bonnie Raitt fans who jumped on the chance to see Bonnie be Bonnie. So we were a bit disappointed that she sat in the audience until the second to last song, a cover "Do Right Woman" on which she shared back-up duties with jazz/folk singer Sasha Dobson (whose band 'usually includes Julian'). A sweet moment, as their voices blended well, but not electrifying, and ultimately disappointing (especially given that Raitt's guitar was sitting onstage, at the ready. Perhaps she played it in the first set? We latecomers were out of luck). But alas, it wasn't her show, so we couldn't really complain...and the new Yoshi's is truly beautiful, comfortable and sounds great. That said, given the glut of music I've been feasting on, and the drive and fervor I saw most folks perform with in Austin, I left feeling like it was all a bit too polished. Realized it's the passion in a show that gets me and makes me a fan, whatever the craftsmanship level. I want to be able to tell an artist has gone to the edge and looked over it long and hard...

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