Seeing Lyle Lovett and his Large Band perform at Red Rocks is a tradition that I started over two decades ago. Over the years, I have seen the best dressed band in the music industry (they all wear fancy designer suits) perform with John Denver, Kris Kristofferson, Alison Krauss, Shawn Colvin, Lisa Loeb, and Margo Price. On Monday night, Lyle Lovett sung with Ricky Skaggs. With the help of a smart phone, Skaggs stole the show.
Lovett started the concert with Pants is Overrated. The silly song describes the joy of life without pants. Ironically, most of the crowd was in shorts and skirts. The next group of songs were the blues inspired You’ve Been So Good Up to Now, I Know You Know, and Gee Baby, Aint’ I Good to You. Francine Reed, his long time duet partner, lightened up the mood by joining him on Nat King Cole’s Straighten Up and Fly Right. Lovett originally recorded the song for the 1996 Garry Marshall comedy Dear God.
After encouraging the Red Rocks’ crowd to sing Happy Birthday to Ricky Skaggs (Skaggs turned sixty-five-years-old on July 18), Lovett brought the Master of the Mandolin on stage. After pulling out his smart phone for help with the lyrics, Skaggs joined Lovett for the bluegrass inspired Up in Indiana. That’s when Lovett started to tune his guitar. He said, “I don’t mind being out of tune for me. But I will be in tune for you.” Skaggs replied, “My Dad used to say, son if you are a little out of tune it’s alright. It just makes it sound like there are more of us playing.” Ricky Skaggs wowed the band and the crowd with his remarkable mandolin playing. After a few more tunes and stories, they ended with the gospel standard, I’ll fly Away. Skaggs didn’t need to look at his phone for those lyrics.
The Large Band returned to play the crowd favorites”If I had a Boat, Here I Am, and That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas). Near the end of the show, the band played Closing Time. It’s not a cover of the Semisonic song from 1998. It’s a Lyle Lovett original released in 1986. “The night she is a true companion/They shuffle in/They hear the sound/But by night’s end/It’s night’s abandon/You look across the floor/Aint’ anyone around.” Church, a song about being hungry while listening to a preacher’s sermon, was the encore. The crowd sang along with the gospel inspired ridiculous lyrics.
While the sun was setting, Ricky Skaggs and his band Kentucky Thunder started the night of music. Since learning to play the mandolin at the age of five, Skaggs has been entertaining generations of bluegrass music fans. He has performed with the legendary Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, and Emmylou Harris. As a side note, Harris was too sick to open for Lyle Lovett and his Large Band a few years ago. Read about that show by clicking here. Skaggs told the story about the one time he talked back to his mother in his youth. That resulted in her throwing him through a door and making him fix it. That was his introduction to the gospel song Rank Stranger popularized by The Stanley Brothers in 1960. Skaggs asked the crowd if they could remember the last century before playing his hit Highway 41. Skaggs proved that his music and his beautiful flowing locks of hair have not changed through the years.
See you at the next show. I’ll be looking up the pros and cons of wearing pants on my smart phone.