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Monday, March 10, 2014

Jackson Browne & Alison Krauss

I recorded a couple of concerts on AXS on Sunday. I didn't have any real expectations. These were not concerts by mega-groups or big stars but rather by artists a notch below that level. Solid performers I knew of but that weren't on my normal playlist. The results are one of the reasons I love AXS and DVRs. Because of the change to Daylight Savings Time, I found that I wasn't really tired when the late news finished (at body time 9:30) so I fired up the DVR'd concerts.

The first one was I'll Do Anything, Jackson Browne Live in Concert, I bet you can guess that this was a Jackson Browne concert and that it was live in front of an audience. Not a studio session. I've known about and listened to Jackson for many years. If you don't know Jackson, you have certainly heard his songs. He has written for The Eagles, The Byrds, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Linda Ronstadt, Joan Baez and others. He also wrote a few hits that he recorded himself. The biggest is probably Running On Empty. Others songs like Doctor My Eyes and Take It Easy also charted. Take It Easy was a huge hit for the Eagles. Jackson and Glenn Frey of the Eagle co-wrote that one. If you have seen the history of the Eagles documentary you know Jackson was very influential on their success. He is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Browne has a pleasant voice and a great catalog of songs. His music and singing are not over the top or rock arena powerful. You can hear similarities in his music and The Eagles. He plays guitar and piano during the concert. No frills, no theatrics, no pyrotechnics, just Browne and four or five musicians on a bare stage. As expected of a real musician, the band was very good. I'm sure there was some electronic enhancement but there were not 12 backup singers on stage and I detected no lipsyncing BS. It was a very enjoyable hour.

Two observations about Jackson Browne and the concert. He is about the same age as I am and he looks great. He still has a full head of hair and looks about 40 years old. Plus he's a rock star. That's not fair. The other is that I have always liked Running On Empty and always thought that it should be paired with Life In The Fast Lane at Eagles concerts. Joe Walsh should sing them. He did both. Makes sense to me.

The second concert was Alison Krauss & Union Station. I've seen Alison perform a song or two several times but never a full concert. I liked her voice and always thought she was an extremely shy performer. This concert reinforced those observations. Alison is a no frill performer with the voice of an angel. This too was a bare stage with a few musicians playing simple music. All the musicians were great including Alison on the fiddle. Back to Alison's voice. It is perfect. There are no showy embellishments, no oversinging. Just hit the note and hold it as required. I'm not necessarily a big bluegrass fan, but when Alison is singing it is my favorite music.

Do me a favor, find a song by some current favorite like Taylor Swift or Selena Gomez. Then listen to Alison, one of the purest voices on earth.

I didn't find either concert on AXS on Demand but sometimes it takes a couple of days before they show up. Both are worth your time.

wjh

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