Pam Tillis and Juice Newton April April 15
Ladies Kick Up Their Boot heels at Cerritos
By Glen Creason
Saturday night was ladies night at the Performing Arts Center where two Country and Western stars named Juice Newton and Pam Tillis twinkled in the Cerritos firmament. While Juice and Pam sort of operate in different constellations they had an enthusiastic audience and hard charging bands in common along with a full repertoire of solid hits to call upon. Together the ladies of this night have a couple dozen “radio” hits that, like these women, have aged well.
Juice Newton opened but assumed an equal status while taking a much more pop-sounding approach. Her strong voice was necessary in the amped up mix of her powerful band lead all night by the tasty guitar leads of Otha Young. Coming out of the chute with “Every Road Leads Back to You” and “Love Sail Away” Ms. Newton opened the ears of everybody, then settled into the ballads that made her famous including “Hurt,” “Break It to Me Gently” and the very poignant “the Sweetest Thing I’ve Ever Known.” Throughout she showed a great versatility and a loosey-goosey charm that was hard to resist. She bounced through a reggae-infused “the Trouble With Angels,” busted out a full-gallop “American Girl” and hit her full-stride on “Love’s Been a Little Bit Hard on Me.” Despite having a reputation as an 80’s artist Juice Newton showed plenty of chutzpah and mixed material from the breadth of her long career including the swing dance feel of “After Midnight,” a tribute to the King in “They Never Made it to Memphis” and the heart throbbing C&W torch song “Shot Full of Love.” In deference to her many fans she gave a spirited reading of her trademark “Angel of the Morning” and finished ripping up a lickety-split “Queen of Hearts.”
Pam Tillis on the other manicured hand was straight up country but served up with class, great musicianship and a charisma developed in her childhood amongst the legends of the genre. The lady is a real pro and provided a fascinating musical review spotlighting three young and multi-talented musicians to lift up her strong vocals. Adorable Lisa Manning on fiddle, equally adorable Mary Sue England on guitar, fiddle and piano and the marvelous Darin Favorite on lead guitar. This anchor trio really sparkled throughout and added a visual appeal that complimented Ms. Tillis’ singing and terrific story-telling. Her history is grounded in the classics and she started with a Ray Price song and finished an encore of…the Beatles?! Yep, along with the songs the crowd came to hear her sing like “Shake the Sugar Tree,” “Spilled Perfume,” “Let That Pony Run,” “Welcome to My Crazy Life” and the sassy “Don’t Tell Me What to Do” she topped off her sweet evening of song with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Along the way there were the added treats of a rocked out “Deep Down,” the shouting loud “Queen of the Night” and two remarkable ballads; “Maybe It Was Memphis” and “All the Good Ones Are Gone “ sweetened by the honeyed Tillis voice that bathed them in emotion.
When the big crowd called the little lady out for more, she accommodated with a rousing “Ring of Fire” and the Beatles interdigitation song curtain calls.