concert reviews

Lyle Lovett at Wolf Trap, Vienna, VA, Tuesday 22 August 2006

The moniker "Large Band" was certainly no understatement for the group of musicians backing Lyle Lovett on Tuesday night at Wolf Trap.

The evening began with the sparsely plucked "Don't Cry a Tear," with a cello accompanying Lovett's acoustic guitar and heavy voice. A few songs later, musicians walked onstage one by one until Lovett was surrounded by a 17-piece orchestra, which included mandolin, violin, pedal steel, four horns and four backup singers.

The diversity of these musicians mirrored the breadth of Lovett's songs. The backup singers added a gospel flair to "I Will Rise Up" and "Since the Last Time," a Stevie Ray Vaughanish electric guitar brought the blues to "My Baby Don't Tolerate" and the brass section gave a jolt of jazz to an instrumental number. Lovett highlighted his mandolin player, the Chieftains' Jeff White, on a pair of bluegrass songs performed with fiddle and acoustic guitar.

Lovett's understated presence and dry sense of humor infused his performance as he talked about his family and home in Texas. He divulged his method of coping with contractors who hadn't completed his projects -- immortalizing their failures in a song and performing it at every show: "Eventually I'm going to sing it someplace they are," he said, grinning. "Because they're sure not at home!" But the laid-back song that followed, "In My Own Mind," was so lovely, even the spurned workers would likely have been won over.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 24 August 2006; Page C06
.: Selected discography: My Baby Don't Tolerate (Lyle Lovett, 2003); Live in Texas (Lyle Lovett, 1999); The Road to Ensenada (Lyle Lovett, 1996); Lyle Lovett and His Large Band (Lyle Lovett, 1989); Pontiac (Lyle Lovett, 1987); Lyle Lovett (Lyle Lovett, 1986).