My wife called me last week to let me know she had seen somewhere that Bonnie Raitt would be in town soon. We went to a Bonnie Raitt concert about 8 years ago, and haven’t heard about her returning since. Without hesitation, I told my wife to buy tickets.
We got a babysitter, packed a cooler, and headed for Chastain Amphitheatre. Opening for Raitt was the Robert Cray band (I admittedly could not place the songs of his I knew until he got to “Strong Persuader“). Once he got to “Still Hot Smoking Gun“, then I remembered… man, I loved that song in high school…
Bonnie took the stage soon after Cray’s band left, and she started in with some great songs and talked with the audience about the blues performers she has had the fortune to work with. I think the first song was something like “Let a young boy do a man’s job“. A little later, she sang a Randy Newman song about “bomb them all, they don’ t like us anyway.“ The really funny part is that, as uppity a venue as Chastain is, it was still populated with its fair share of red-clay working rednecks that screamed “hell yeeaaahhh!!!“ You can’t help but wonder if they didn’t hear or simply ignored the sarcasm that we should bomb everybody except Australia because they have great surfing. I could give you a visual here of a faded black Harley T-shirt, multiple keys dangling from a beltloop in your jeans, and crushed Budweiser cans strewn in a semicircle in front of you, but you probably already caught that part. They were definitely in the minority, as the majority seemed to be the wine-sipping, upper-middle class affluents of the area sporting their nicest flower arrangement atop their Coleman cooler.
About 3/4 the way through she announced, “The Indigo Girls are on tour tonight, or they would have been here, so instead please give it up for India Arie!“
The crowd went nuts, but more importantly, my wife nearly exploded. She loves India Arie (I bought her a CD for Christmas), but the chance to hear her sing with Bonnie Raitt must have been amazing. They sang “Something to Talk About“, which sounded incredible. And that was the beginning of almost 45 minutes straight of one of the best concerts I have been fortunate enough to see. I love to hear a very well-played acoustic guitar, and being able to make a slide guitar actually sound good is a skill that many attempt yet few achieve.
If you have never been to Chastain, it is something you have to experience. It is a small outdoors venue in the snobby section of Atlanta (Buckhead area), and it must seat something like 5,000 tops. I have had the pleasure of seeing James Taylor, Peter Frampton, Jackson Browne, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra there. You bring in your own cooler, and people typically bring a dish like shrimp, cheese, and fruit with their favorite bottle of wine. And don’t forget the mini candelabra and flower setting that everyone puts on the folding table in front of them. The furthest seats away are still pretty damned good compared to decent seats at a large venue, and who can beat a BYOB concert event where you bring your own pyro?
The best song of the night, though, had to be “Angel from Montgomery”. It’s one of those songs you have probably heard a thousand times and know by heart, you just never knew where it came from and didn’t realize you knew the words in the first place.
So, if you are coming in town for MGB and are thinking about things to do, the Beach Boys, KD Lang, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the Counting Crows are all in town then.
And don’t mind my 12-pack of Budweisers or my Harley shirt… I will try not to scream too loudly.