I had the good fortune last Friday to see Lyle Lovett and his Large Band perform at Disney Hall and I'm happy to report that the Texas troubadour and his mates are in fine form. But it does boggle the mind, with the music industry in the shape it's in, that Lovett can still manage to tour with a 10-piece band plus three backup singers! And on this night there was a fourth--Arnold McCuller. He joined Willie Greene Jr. and longtime Lovett stalwarts Harry Bowens and Sweet Pea Atkinson to provide a soulful foundation to just about every song. (Bowens and Atkinson are also the mighty lead singers of the group Was [Not Was].) And there was the usual assortment of styles, everything from ballads and bluegrass to Western swing, jump blues and gospel.
Lovett performed a lot of material from his most recent album, "Natural Forces," which was released earlier this year. He's once again spotlighting the work of songwriters who have influenced him, most of them from Texas, including Townes Van Zandt ("Loretta") and Vince Bell ("Sun and Moon and Stars"). And there's a song he co-wrote with Robert Earl Keen ("It's Rock and Roll"). But the show stopper may have been an older tune, "What Do You Do/The Glory of Love," with McCuller hilariously performing the woman's part that used to be done by Francine Reed. Lovett also performed a more conventional duet, "Baby, It's Cold Outside," with his opening act, Kat Edmonson, a winsome singer/songwriter from Austin.
But in the end it was the always entertaining Lovett and his crack band--some of whom have been with him almost from the start--who made it a memorable evening. However he's managing to keep this ensemble together, the music world is better for it.
(Lovett and Edmonson's albums are available on iTunes, and you can watch some fine videos and catch up with his discography at lylelovett.com.