Emmylou Harris October 10
By Glen Creason
The Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts is certainly setting the bar pretty high lately. The recent visit of traditional music great Emmylou Harris continues a trend of hall of fame performers to visit the great hall in the month of October. With thirty years of experience on the boards, a matching number of albums and twelve Grammy’s to show for her artistry this silver maned lady has sweetened many a song with her silky, “high lonesome sound” soprano. She doesn’t fool around much on stage and kept the storytelling to a minimum, choosing instead to pack the proceedings with music, plenty of the very best in the genre. On this night she came with ample help from the band sometimes known as “Carolina Star” who played in many styles, all with great passion and skill from bluegrass to gospel to what once was called country-rock. The great dobro player Mike Auldridge lead the way in support but Rickie Simpkins on fiddle, Jimmy Gaudreau on mandolin and Tom Gray on bass really put some giddy up in two dozen bluegrass, county and gospel tunes that comprised the concert.
There was a relaxed tone in the early going with nice stuff like “Songbird,” “Roses in the Snow,” “Blue Kentucky Girl” and “Miss the Mississippi and You” lolling the audience into a countrified groove. Despite a the little canter of “Leavin’ Louisiana in the Broad Daylight” the bittersweet ballad specialties of Emmylou returned with a perfect “One of These Days,” the deeply affecting James Taylor song “Millworker” and just one of many gospel gems “If I Be Lifted Up.” While Miss Harris strained a few times on the high lonesome notes in this time of weather temperature transition she carried on toward an entire CDs worth of beautiful choices from her huge repertoire. Much of the music came from her early work and none worked better than a fine rendition of “Making Believe” that was balanced by the easy on the ears “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.” The songwriting was at the highest levels including the work of Townes Van Zandt in his masterpiece “Pancho and Lefty,” and probably the highlight of the show in “Snowing on Raton” which gave goose bumps for sure. There was a healthy portion of sanctified song including the crisp harmonies of “Jordan,” a very nice “Green Pastures” and the wondrous “Get Up John” that really glowed like polished gold. Family also figured and the highlight to my ears on this night was most certainly “Love and Happiness” dedicated to her own. Emmylou mixed in the secular too and standout material on this night came from disparate sources such as Paul Simon’s “the Boxer,” and Graham Parsons “Sin City” and “Wheels” which served as a perfect setup for an encore of the emotion-drenched “Boulder to Birmingham.” October 2007 will most certainly be a month to remember on Center drive.