Lyle Lovett has played two mountain shows near Salt Lake in the last two years. Both were at Deer Valley. (He did, however, appear last October in Abravanel Hall).
Those who caught Lovett during the Deer Valley trips through the Beehive State know that Lovett's hair, which was famously tall, isn't his only unique attribute. His musical approach is fresh, and with his Large Band behind him he takes musical journeys where few other performers ever go. Partly because he feels no need to be conventional.Many in attendance those nights admitted that they had come partly to see just who it was that actress Julia Roberts had fallen in love with or - by some chance - catch a glimpse of the beautiful woman. Those same folks left the chilly August show with a grand appreciation for Lovett's songwriting ability and his ability to include a wide variety of approaches and styles in one live, entertaining concert. He did many things well and knew enough to step back and let the individuals in his Large Band showcase their many varied talents instead of keeping himself constantly in the spotlights.
Lovett is returning to the mountain atmosphere to again showcase his own mix of blues, country, folk gospel and rock. This time he will play Wolf Mountain on Thursday, Aug. 10. Special guest Shawn Colvin will open the show at 7:30 p.m.
Those who have seen Lovett previously will definitely not be there to see what's-her-name.
Lovett's country roots are obvious from knowing a little of his background. Lovett was born, raised and mostly still lives in Klein, Texas, a small farming community named for his great-great-grandfather. He really is from a cowboy background, which explains his often worn pinstriped suit and cowboy boots.
But there is so much more to Lovett as evidenced by both his live show and his September 1994 release, "I Love Everybody."
The newest disc has been modestly successful behind singles "Penguins," and "Creeps Like Me." Unusual song titles have been a staple of Lovett albums and part his appeal. Country/folk/gospel/rock music fan or not, it is difficult not to get a chuckle out of, "Hello Grandma," and "She's No Lady (She's My Wife)."
"The preacher asked her, she said I do. The preacher asked me and she said yes he does too. And the preacher said I pronounce you 99 to life. She's no lady she's my wife," is typical of his rhyming humor. His wit is the common denominator that runs through all his eclectic styles. This common thread holds the fabric together, allowing Lovett to do his stuff the way he wants to do it.
Is he strange and quirky?
"I don't consider myself quirky and bent," he has said. "I enjoy having a sense of humor in my songs, in that, I owe a lot, in terms of influence, to songwriters like Randy Newman and Tom Waits and John Prine, but I don't really try to write quirky songs. I try to write songs that express a feeling or an emotion or an idea that someone else hasn't done before."
His latest musical venture is a more emotional and personal than previous records. His approach is more pared-down featuring Lovett on both guitars and vocals. John Leftwich is on bass, with Russ Kunkel and Kenny Aronoff taking turns on drums. Several tracks also feature cellist John Hagen, violinist Mark O'Connor and a collection of backing vocalists that includes Rickie Lee Jones, Leo Kottke, Herb Pederson, Sir Harry Bowens, Sweet Pea Atkinson, Eric Taylor and Harry Stinson.
If this Lovett tour is anything like the last one, he will bring a musical brigade with him to provide him plenty of live versatility.
One disappointment from the '92 show was the absence of Lovett's version of "Stand By Your Man." Can fans expect it this time around? Probably not. With his obvious willingness to let his supporting cast shine and his large catalog of old favorites, he will have a difficult time including all his fans favorites. Instead, look for him to pick from the best of his latest 18 songs that include songs such as "Hello Grandma," "Sonja," "Skinny Legs," "They Don't Like Me," "Moon on My Shoulder," and "I Love Everybody."
Whatever tunes Lovett decides to dust off, he promises to be entertaining while doing it. And he absolutely will do this his way.