Lyle Lovett asked the Red Rocks crowd, “Are you Dancing?” It’s a song from his first album in over a decade entitled The 12th of June. The slow dark tune stopped suddenly, and Lovett left the stage. His Large Band launched into the instrumental Cookin at the Continental. The up-tempo jazz number showcased the first-class musicians and excited the crowd.
Lovett rejoined the band and stated,
“Oh, the nighttime air was fairly breezin’
Well, it was cold but not quite freezin’
So I looked around to find my trousers
And this voice inside my head grew louder“
That’s when he concluded that Pants Is Overrated. A song inspired by his young twins. The concert proceeded with a mix of cleverly crafted lyrics, some of the best musicians on the planet, and Lovett’s unique sense of humor.
The world class musicians in The Large Band easily made up for Lovett’s hoarse voice (it appeared he was under the weather). Since The Large Band is so … large, I’ll just describe a few of the amazing musicians.
If you have ever seen a fluffy white bearded bass player in a music video, chances are it was Leland Sklar. The seventy-five-year-old has played on over 2,000 albums including James Taylor, Warren Zevon, and Phil Collins. Rolling Stone Magazine declared Sklar one of the top bass player in the world. As the wind picked up, Sklar’s beard waved along with his solid playing. During the song I’ve Been to Memphis, Brad Leali blew an unbelievable long note on his alto sax that might still be echoing off Red Rocks. When he isn’t touring with Lovett, he is a professor of jazz saxophone at the University of North Texas.
The Large Band’s background singers have impressive resumes as well. Willie Green, Jr. has performed with George Harrison, Ry Cooder, and Dolly Parton. Jason Eskridge performed with Zac Brown, Johnny Lang, and Amos Lee. Their dance moves during Pig Meat Man and That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas) was worth the price of admission alone.
At the age of ten, fiddle player and vocalist Luke Bulla was the youngest person to ever make the top ten of Nashville’s Grand Master Fiddle Championship. He has played with Brandi Carlile, Alison Krauss, and Shawn Colvin to name only a few. His performance of Temperance Wheel, a song he wrote with Guy Clark, nearly stole the show. Lovett asked him how you developed the guitar like strumming for the tune. Bulla responded that the guitar player never showed up to record the song and he had to improvise. The band helped elevate the country, jazz, and whatever other music genre Lovett’s music crossed throughout the night.
Lyle Lovett and His Large Band ended with Church that had the Red Rocks audience clapping along to a song that concludes,“If a preacher preaches long enough/Even he’ll get hungry too.”
Chris Isaak proclaimed, “If you like sad songs. You have come to the Mother load baby.” Isaak and his band have been performing together for decades. Their set was full of jokes, dances, and hit tunes. Isaak told the audience that he was not allowed to go out into the audience. Not because he was afraid of getting Covid. …. wait for it…It’s because he was afraid of getting gonorrhea. Similar jokes followed throughout his performance. Isaak encouraged his guitar player Hershel Yatovitzand his bass player Rowland Salley to dance throughout the night. And they didn’t disappoint. They synchronized impressive foot work complete with leg kicks (click the video below).
Isaak explained one of his first jobs was a roofer. He didn’t fit in at the job and his co-workers kept asking him why he wore sequins outfits. Between jokes, Isaak sang the hits Somebody’s Crying, Wicked Game, and San Francisco Days. Isaak’s vocals were impressive. He could hit all the high-end notes as well as the low rockabilly rumbles.
Isaak did impressive covers of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling In Love, and Roy Orbiison’s Only the Lonely. After recreating Orbison’s high range vocals, Isaak confessed that he didn’t think he popped anything, but stretched it.
Before singing Baby Did A Bad, Bad Thing, Isaak came out in a mirrored suit. It looked like a disco ball as the stage lights reflected onto the audience. A not-so-subtle message to his naysayers, Isaak ended with Can’t Do a Thing (To Stop Me).
See you at the next show. I’ll be the one doing some high kicks with my fluffy white beard.