All Hail Lyle Lovett, Again

Last night in the Lowell Summer Music Series at Boarding House Park, Lyle Lovett and friends performed for the third time on the iconic pavilion stage, giving us a stunning and sterling display of musicianship and joie de vivre—a dose of happiness like others that are supplied over and over, again and again, through shared creative expression in Lowell.—Market This. A big thanks to the National Park Service and Lowell Festival Foundation for outstanding efforts through 25 years of putting on the show.
Lyle Lovett at Boarding House Park (photo by JohnB)

Lyle Lovett at Boarding House Park (photo by JohnB)

Our hyper-local blog wears government-issued pants and a coordinated history jacket, so my observation in that regard is that Lyle and his Large Band cut through all the toxic political crap in the national river last night and gave us a united states of the arts, in this case music. Everybody was on the same song sheet last night under the deep dark sky stuck with a few stars. The air was cool. The overcast didn’t make rain. Lyle said, “In Texas we call this weather (pause) winter.” Not only were the musicians, singers, and production crew from North Texas, Seattle, Tennessee, Los Angeles, Alabama, and a bunch of other places, but the music pulled all sorts of things out of the American music bag, from country and gospel to Texas Swing and rockabilly to contemporary folk, cowboy tunes, jazz and the blues and bluegrass—and more. It’s original; it’s a cover like Lyle singing Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man”; and it’s authentic as it gets. The crowd devoured special numbers like “If I Had a Pony” and “That’s Right, You’re Not From Texas.”  Tonight the band will play in Westbury, N.Y., and then go to the Count Basie Theatre in New Jersey, and come back to Mass. at the Cape Cod Melody Tent, and then head to Richmond, Va., and the Wolftrap Center in Vienna, Va. (Wolf Trap is also a National Park Service site like Lowell and billed as America’s National Park of the Performing Arts—well, we are giving them a run for their money in the summer, at least, at Boarding House Park.) I first witnessed the Large Band with Lyle Lovett four years ago at our summer shed off French Street. From the vault, I brought back the 2010 review I wrote back then when I was over-the-top enthusiastic about what I had enjoyed.—PM

Lyle Lovett at Boarding House Park (photo by JohnB)

Lyle Lovett at Boarding House Park (photo by JohnB)

All Hail Lyle Lovett for Lifting Up Lowell

August 14, 2010 by PaulM Posted in CultureHistoryLowell 5Comments

(Web photo courtesy of Grand Rapids Press)

This isn’t a photo from last night’s show at Boarding House Park (The Lowell Summer Music Series), but it will help anyone who missed the so-far show of the year picture what the stage looked like. At one point, Lyle had 15 musicians and singers on stage. I never once thought of Lawrence Welk. I had never seen/heard Lyle Lovett in concert. What was I missing? What I was missing! Where to begin? Wow. Double-wow. The twin dynamos of BHP, Peter Aucella and John Marciano, keep out-doing themselves. For shows in recent years, Lyle Lovett & His Large Band ranks with the appearance of Joan Baez under the French Street pergola for sheer musicianship and performance power. For energy and lift and proliferation of fun, the edge goes to Lyle. The Sun this week reported that his troupe has played in Boston and on Cape Cod, but I can’t believe those shows were better than the one last night. The recording gods should have been at their machines because a live album/cd/download of the show last night in Lowell would be a mega-hit. The band played for more than two hours after a catchy opening set by song-stylist Kat Edmonson, whose voice wraps around standards like “Summertime” as if culturally engineered for them. I can’t remember the names of the players in the “Large Band” or the four fabulous older guys singing on the side, but each of them deserves to have his name etched into the steel of the performance pavilion for history’s sake. People will talk about this concert for years, maybe decades. The temperature was perfect. A searchlight swept across the sky overhead all night for added glamour. Am I too enthusiastic? Sitting there with my wife and some close friends, I was dual-tracking in my head, savoring every well-played note and beautifully sung word while trying to put what was going on in experiential context. Like the labels on science displays in the Exploratorium in San Francisco that ask ”What’s going on here?”—I was thinking, This is the essence of art-induced joy. This is why people say they “love” music, and it is not too strong a word. How many people attended the show? More than 2,000 probably. And there were moments when the artists and audience bonded in pleasure that explain why people have been beating on drums and plucking strings and trying to make harmonious sounds together for two million years or so. The show was a tour of American music, from rock-and-roll to jazz, from country and gospel to the pop songbook, from alt-country to blues and swing and the other variations. We witnessed a unit at its peak. When the lights came back on at the end of the show the grounds buzzed and bubbled with chatter as people folded up blankets and chairs and moved toward the exits. To the organizers and sponsors: “Well done, well done.” To the band-leader and the band: “Forget Cape Cod; come back to Lowell next summer.”

5 Responses to All Hail Lyle Lovett, Again

  1. PaulM says:

    The band played for 2.5 hours, from 7.30 pm to 10 pm, or after, for a capacity crowd of about 2,000 people.

  2. Dwight says:

    It was an incredible show on Saturday night. This was the first time I have seen Lyle Lovett, and I hope and pray he will be back real soon with his Large Band. It was music at its best.

  3. b ruasa says:

    I have been a big fan since the 90’s! Good to see him adding Lowell to his regular gigs! Glad he brought the large band (not big ;) and had a dry night! His voice may be fading a bit, but oh, the music he brings!

  4. Dave G says:

    I was bumming that I was going to miss Lyle because I had book a rental on the Cape (I know…) I was so glad that he played the Melody Tent a couple of days later. The Cape show was fantastic! As good as what I remember from 2010.I just missed sitting outside in the best outdoor venue in New England.