Reviews > Shows
Lyle Lovett at Wolf Trap
Photo credit: Cindy Dyer, Dyer Design
Lyle Lovett and his Acoustic Group
Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
If there’s any better way to spend a warm summer night than listening to Lyle Lovett sing and play guitar on Chuck Berry’s “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” I don’t know it.
Sure, the multi-Grammy Award winning Lovett has been around for decades but anyone who attended the recent show at Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Va., just outside of Washington, D.C., can be forgiven for forgetting Lovett’s acclaim. Although the spotlight was almost always on Lovett while he was on stage, he turned the show’s metaphoric spotlight on everyone but himself.
That started right away when the Acoustic Group – fiddler Luke Bulla, mandolinist Keith Sewell, bassist Viktor Krauss (yes, Allison’s brother), cellist John Hagen and drummer Russ Kunkel – opened the show with a blazing version of the fiddle classic “Garfield’s Blackberry Blossom.” It wasn’t until the end of the bluegrass standard that Lovett, who like the group was dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and tie despite the steamy weather, joined the group for the title track of his latest album Release Me.
“One of the objectives of putting the show together is that I want my audience to know everyone on stage,” he said prior to the concert. “The thing that I enjoy most about getting to play music is the people I get to meet and work with.”
And throughout the 2 ½ hour show, Lovett introduced the audience to a host of those with whom he plays and others who influenced him throughout his career. There’s Buddy Holly, of course, who Lovett noted is claimed as a native by everyone from bigwigs in New York to a waitress at a Perkins in Iowa, before launching into “Well…All Right.”
Then there’s Guy Clark. Lovett covered “Anyhow, I Love You,” after telling the audience how it was Clark’s songs that “taught me all a song could be, all a song should be.” And of course he didn’t forget Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, paying homage to them with a rendition of “White Boy Lost in the Blues.”
But even with all of the star turns, Lovett kept those in his Acoustic Group front and center, allowing several players a chance to spotlight and discuss their solo work, even jovially prodding them to do so.
“They all have their own careers,” said Lovett of his band mates. “I’m just grateful they put down what they’re doing a couple times a year and play with me.”
When Lovett did turn the set to his own songs, it was easy to see why musicians and fans flock to the Texan’s work.
He played a sparkling version of “This Old Boat,” with a nod to friend and co-writer Robert Earl Keen, and also had a fun turn with “Penguins” engaging in a bit of soft shoe that made the audience chuckle. “She’s No Lady,” “My Baby Don’t Tolerate,” and “LA County” also were among the highlights.”
Even after more than two hours of songs, Lovett and his Acoustic Group returned from an encore playing “Nobody Knows Me” and a hearty version of “You Can’t Resist It.’
“I get the feeling people come to my shows are people who really pay attention,” said Lovett prior to this concert. “They seem to know a lot about my work and really want to be there.”
Anyone who attended this show and felt the genuine affection the audience radiated toward Lovett and the others musicians would have difficulty disagreeing.
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