Review by Greg Haymes
Singer-songwriter Patty Griffin has called the Lone Star State her home for 17 years. In 2007, she was named the Americana Music Association’s Artist of the Year. And her songs have been recorded by the likes of Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride and the Dixie Chicks.
But please don’t call her a country singer…
She earned her Grammy Award in the traditional gospel category, and in concert at The Egg’s Hart Theatre last Wednesday evening, she and her band ripped up her 90-minute show with a pair of full-throated, no-holds-barred gospel tunes – “Standing” and Dorothy Coates Love’s haunting “The Strange Man” – as if to prove that the Grammy was no fluke.
There was also a ferocious, blues-meets-rockabilly rave-up on the title track of her 1998 album Flaming Red. The lush, almost symphonic opener “Carry Me” with a rolling sonic landscape crafted by bassist Craig Ross. The droning, drifting acoustic psychedelia of “Ohio.” The flat-out, boot-stompin’ rocker, “Please Don’t Let Me Die in Florida,” fueled by a hellfire guitar solo from former Alejandro Escovedo six-string-slinger David Pulkingham. The lascivious two-step “Get Ready, Marie,” which she described as a “trashy folk song” about her grandparents.
The smoldering, sultry south-of-the-border song, “Mil Besos” – sung in Spanish. A song so new that she hadn’t titled it yet, referring to it simply as “The Mando Song,” with her mandolin in perfect interplay with John Deaderick’s accordion. A couple of solo songs – “Cold as It Gets” and “Railroad Wings” – that dropped into the middle of the show.
And then to cap it all off, for her encore she led the boys through the vintage standard “The Glory of Love,” inspired by Jimmy Durante’s rendition. That’s right, Jimmy Durante…
Yes, there was more than just a bit of country twang ‘n’ angst mixed in throughout her captivating hour-and-a-half performance. But please don’t call her a country singer. She’s so much more than that. As she sang during one of her close-to-closing numbers, “Go Wherever You Wanna Go.” No boundaries. No borders. No genre restrictions.
And if the marvelous Miss Patty Griffin wasn’t enough to float your boat, well, Oklahoma singer-songwriter Parker Millsap opened the show with an absolutely riveting performance. Accompanied by fiddler Daniel Foulks and stand-up bassist Michael Rose, Millsap melded rough-and-tumble rockabilly fervor with surprising sensitivity and a mesmerizing voice that frequently soared into a falsetto that somehow remained rooted in the blues.
His 40-minute set was highlighted by “Palisade,” an intense, slow-as-molasses take on Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “You Gotta Move” and “Quite Contrary,” a clever and scary little ditty, which Millsap said was about “nursery rhyme characters who learned to cook methamphetamine.”
NOTE: Patty Griffin and Parker Millsap are playing at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton at 8pm tonight (Tuesday, June 17). Tickets are $25, $35 & $45. It’s worth the trip… from wherever you are.
PATTY GRIFFIN SET LIST
Please Don’t Let Me Die in Florida
(new untitled – “Mando Song”)
Cold as It Gets (solo)
Railroad Wings (solo)
The Strange Man (Dorothy Love Coates)
Wild Old Dog
Get Ready, Marie
Go Wherever You Wanna Go
The Glory of Love
PARKER MILLSAP SET LIST
You Gotta Move
Truck Stop Gospel