Expect a fairly prompt start. Slated for a 7:30 beginning, the lights went down at 7:41 with Emmylou, Rodney, and the band unceremoniously taking the stage clad in what could be street clothes. For really big shots in the music industry, these two are as unpretentious as you get.
The songs – 20 of them – came in quick succession punctuated occasionally with pleasant banter directed at the audience, comprised of mostly old folks. Last night’s show was part of Charleston’s Spoleto Arts Festival, which may have had something to do with the audience’s advanced age. Several of them stiffly fled as the band took their bows as if they didn’t realize that encores were sure to follow.
The set list sandwiches cuts from their new album of duets — The Traveling Kind – between covers and selections from their previous work. They kicked off with a cover of Lucinda Williams’ “I Just Wanted See You So Bad,” (which actually appears on the new album), then went right into “Grievous Angel.” Highlights from the pre-album phase included “Poncho and Lefty,” “Red Dirt Girl,” and “Love Hurts.”
Before they launched into the new songs, Emmylou remarked that she and Rodney had somehow managed to achieve longevity without getting much radio play. Then she said that she’d rather be on a jukebox than a radio to cheers from the audience.
I may have enjoyed the new stuff even more than lead-in tunes. The band — some of whom are not the musicians performing on the record – consisted of Steuart Smith on pedal steel, John somebody on drums, Michael somebody alternating between stand-up and electric bass, a killer keyboardist who also played accordion on the delightful “La Danse de la Joie,” and impressive Australian lead guitarist Jed Hughes who thrilled the crowd with searing solos.
Emmylou announced that we’d just heard most of the new album and then treated us to five more songs.
The lights came up, some septuagenarians headed for the exits, and then Emmylou came back on the stage alone and said that she only played this song – “Hickory Winds” — in South Carolina, and Rodney and the rest of the band ambled out one by one to join in.
So ultimately, what you can expect is 100 plus minutes of Americana music performed by a couple of national treasures.