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WHEN LYLE’S HERE, YOU GOTTA LOVETT, BABY

SHARE WHEN LYLE’S HERE, YOU GOTTA LOVETT, BABY

The grandest entrance Lyle Lovett needed for his show at Wolf Mountain was simply to follow the ten musicians in his Big Band on stage and sit down to play. Lovett's music, and his polish in performing it, provided a great summer concert.

Only one song into his set - a sad little guitar ditty backed by a cello - Lovett left the stage and let his talented band shine on its own. The horns and percussion section grabbed everybody's attention, introducing band members without their needing to utter a word. Most of the musicians performed a short solo in the jazz tradition.Drum rhythms laid a foundation for short improvisations on the trombone, trumpet, piano, saxophone, guitar and tenor sax while Lovett sat backstage with still more of his ensemble.

Everybody got their licks in and Lovett returned with four assistant vocalists in tow and put them to work immediately on "Penguins Are So Sensitive." The rich four-part harmony provided musical layers over which Lovett laid his lead vocals. Despite the style and quality of his supporting cast, especially the vocals, Lovett remained at the center of attention simply by standing and singing the tunes his fans love.

In case fans weren't past the country image, much of Lovett's early performance had nothing to do with country. "Hallelujah," which started out as a sad funeral dirge, kicked into a rousing gospel tune that had the mostly over-20 crowd hopping. The horn section was blaring but never lost its clean, crisp delivery thanks in part to the sharp rhythm section, which held everything together.

Despite Lovett's success at feeding the appreciative crowd a steady diet of gospel and soul, he switched gears and let his country roots shine through. Country highlights of his Texas medley included "That's Right I am Not From Texas," featuring the chorus in double time.

Remarkably, the switch in styles was smooth for Lovett and his band. Part of the credit for this must be given to Lovett's lyrics, which can entertain an audience almost by themselves. Jazz or country, Lovett is interesting at the microphone.

In "Back to Carolina," the Big Band managed to throw a little of both styles into one song. At times during the song, Wolf Mountain took on a little of the feeling of a smoky jazz club while Lovett maintained the image of a smooth country crooner.

During the finer country moments, usually small and quiet ones, the chilly mountain air and the sounds of the sexy saxophone inspired couples to cuddle and hold hands. As pleasant as all this was, the audience seemed to really want to boogie and showed its appreciation when the full complement of horn and strings had returned.

Lovett polished off his set with a short version of "Stand By Your Man," and after a brief one-man encore, was on his way. The audience was reluctant to leave, standing a chanting "Lyle," even after the lights had come on.

Shawn Colvin, who arrived from the airport only minutes before taking the stage, was a perfect addition to the show. Her smooth yet powerful voice also received great acclaim from the audience and made a good show even better.