eastmountainsouth, shelby lynne, and lyle lovett at the hollywood bowl

eastmountainsouth was okay. nothing breathtaking, and i couldn't help but think that over the rhine or patty griffin would have opened the show with a little more soul.

shelby lynne is a weird one; her stage banter was out there. the set lacked energy at first, but warmed up well enough to showcase shelby's cadre of great songs. one of the best aspects of her performance was a new song about johnny cash and june carter cash. shelby lynne properly interpreted johnny cash's death as more than the passing of a musical genius; it was also the cosmic reunion of a couple that oriented their lives according to their love for one another.

i admit that i didn't know many lyle lovett songs, as the album of his that we own is all covers. the band-- i think it was the quasi-country band-- was populated with immensely talented musicians. lovett and co. wore suits and ties, appropriate to the dapper country sound of lovett's narrative songs about family, love, truckers, and favorite automobiles. the big finale included a gospel choir and some vocal soloists, and it was just soooo gooood: they took us to church.

the evening was billed as part of the KCRW world music program, and included the only american music of the series. i do think that the country and gospel tradition in which artists like lynne and lovett work is indeed the most vital and innovative genre on the contemporary american music scene.

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