What an absolutely perfect night for Lincoln Center Out of Doors and Americana Fest NY. They’ve built a program of country, roots, gospel, blues, and jazz at Damrosch Park that is playing to full crowds on beautiful summer nights.
First out was Robert Ellis and his band and I immediately noticed that he’s cut his hair. Then I noticed the change in his music – he’s gone from old country to a pop and sometimes free-form jazz sound. Except for “Sing Along” at the end (dedicated to Ornette Coleman), a song about the Bible Belt, which had a foot stomping ending, the songs were all quiet and laid-back. The Houston-born songwriter has moved from Nashville to Greenpoint and so has the music.
I liked Ellis’ pure country sound. I missed hearing songs like the George Jones-type “What’s In It For Me?” or the road anthem “Coming Home.” Most of the songs were from the new album. Emmylou Harris joined Ellis for “Crying Time,” which was the highlight of his set.
rtb said before Ellis’ set that maybe the third time would be the charm but I’m afraid this wasn’t the set to make anyone fall in love with him. There was something missing.
Per Wikipedia, Ellis’ band is Kelly Doyle (guitar), Geoffrey Muller (bass), Wil Van Horn (pedal steel guitar), and Ryan Chavez (drums).
The sound at LC Out of Doors was perfect, which made it better to hear Emmylou’s voice. I prefer Emmylou when she’s singing with a partner and Rodney Crowell makes a perfect partner for her. Right at the beginning Emmylou performed “Pancho & Lefty” and then they both sang the Roger Miller song “Invitation to the Blues” and “Bluebird Wine.” “Love Hurts” is always a highlight as was “Old Yellow Moon,” George Strait’s “Stars on the Water,” and “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.” They came back for one song, “Boulder to Birmingham” before saying goodnight. It was a nice mix of old favorites and songs from their album. I do wish they had done “Back When We Were Beautiful” but you can’t get everything.
Emmylou did introduce the band but I didn’t write down their names and I can’t find the current line-up of the Hot Band.
By Carene Lydia Lopez