Saturday, August 8, 2009

Summer Concerts 1: Tracy Chapman

I have to admit that i tend to forget about Tracy Chapman. Every couple of years I receive a new cd from her, listen a couple times, fall in love with her songwriting, give it a few spins on radio and then just forget. I do, however, remember how amazing she was to see perform live and snatched a ticket for her current tour.

Tracy is a powerful performer. She has a quiet strength. She is soft spoken but sings with a big voice produced effortlessly. It is truely as if the music is just passing through her. It isn't something that can be understood in a youtube clip but experienced in person. She brings a calming energy to her performances that is palpable to those in the audience. Her band was great, highlighted on a James Brown style rendition of "Give me One Reason", but she she showed her versatility performing a couple songs solo, including one on a strum stick, whipped out her bongos and even sat down to jam on a cajun box drum.

Seeing her at the Calvin Theater (august 1st) reminded me of all the songs I had forgotten: "Fast Car" "Talkin bout a Revolution" "Baby Can I Hold You" "Smoke & Ashes" "Crossroads". I had so loved her 2005 cd Where You Live and its commentary on American politics, but had forgotten the politics of her earlier music. As a songwriter she is equal parts lover and fighter.

Even as I'm writing this I'm reminding myself of other beautifully written songs by Ms. Chapman: "Never Yours" "New Beginning" "Change". This time I hope I don't forget.

For her complete list of tour dates this summer visit And even though its not the same, here are some clips.

The Lover

The Fighter

And I almost forgot to mention the thrill I had seeing newcomer Gaby Moreno open the show! Originally from Guatemala, she now resides in LA, has won songwriting awards and received praise from KCRW. She blew me away.

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