POSTED ON JUNE 22, 2011:
Side By Side
Old friends Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt trade songs and swap stories
When Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt arrive at the Brady Theater for a concert this Friday evening, June 24, it won't be just another double bill. Instead of co-headlining sets, the two musicians will share the stage and build off of an old friendship and touring relationship that tracks back to sharing dates since 1989.
Billed as "An Acoustic evening with ...," Lovett and Hiatt will take the stage side-by-side for a show that sheds light on both the songs and the songwriters as they discuss the songs, share anecdotes and quiz each other over their respective catalogs.
For the audience, the experience falls somewhere between a taping of VH1's Storytellers and eavesdropping on two buddies sitting in the living room, exchanging stories over a prolonged jam session.
Although Lovett has scored more commercial hits and is arguably the better known of the two artists, Hiatt's career just might have more hidden treasures in the closet.
After beginning his career in 1974 with a pair of false starts on Epic -- then MCA records -- Hiatt has become the quintessential songwriter. Even though he hasn't spent his career at the top of the charts (1988's "Slow Turning" was his biggest hit), his songs have been covered by artists ranging from Bonnie Raitt and Eric Clapton to Jimmy Buffett, Emmylou Harris, Nick Lowe, Keith Urban, Jewel and Joe Cocker.
Over the course of four decades, Hiatt has recorded more than 20 albums and amassed a treasure chest of songs, many of which are better known for being played by other artists. Nevertheless, Hiatt has been a critical favorite since the early '80s, starting with his 1983 album, Riding with the King. Over time, Hiatt has grown from a critical favorite to a fan favorite, even though the musician has yet into the upper echelon of the album and single charts.
Lovett's career, on the other hand, saw him immediately land in the Top 40 country charts with his debut album and eventually cross over from country to pop acceptance with his later albums.
When inspected individually, the two artists may seem to have little in common, but once you dig into their catalogues, it becomes readily apparent that they are like-minded musicians. Both blur the lines between country, blues, jazz and rock, and each has a penchant for insightful and witty, if at times dry and sarcastic lyrical turns. It should come as no surprise, then, that the two have become good friends over the years, first coming together back in 1989.
On this tour, the pair swaps stories and songs in a show that genuinely shows the artists' mutual admiration for one another. The long standing friendship allows for a comfortable banter and also lends itself to an off the cuff quality that makes the show fresh each night and allows the set list to change from evening to evening.
Both artists have enjoyed quietly successful runs on separate, but similar labels over the past decade (Lovett on Lost Highways and Hiatt on New West) and the evening will definitely allow them to showcase songs from their more recent works. The real joy of the night, however, come when they dig deep into their respective catalogs to pull out both their better known hits and lesser known classics to put perspective on both careers.
"You know, it's just so much fun because this is a chance for me to hang out with one of my favorite songwriters and get to talk with him," Lovett said about the touring arrangement. "The way the show has actually worked out lately, I get to put on my old journalism school hat and I get to ask questions that I always wanted to ask him about the songs. It makes it a lot of fun."
In response, Hiatt has agreed that the reason that he and Lovett enjoy touring together if the comfort level and fun that they enjoy.
"We just swap songs back and forth and make fun of each other. He's a funny guy. I'm basically just his straight man. He's like David Letterman and I'm the pitiful guest, basically," Hiatt said. "It's pretty funny and we have a lot of fun."
Hiatt said the format of the live show is fairly casual and off-the-cuff.
"It's pretty loose. I think people enjoy that it's more just about the songwriting and just throwing songs back and forth," he said. "We sing together on some things and I play some guitar on some of his. We just have a great time for two and a half hours. It's enjoyable -- we have a lot of fun and I think the audience usually seems to as well."
If you've ever wanted to be a fly on the wall and see how a pair of great songwriters interacts, this may be your closest opportunity. Sure, it's staged, but after over 20 years as friends, ever night goes by with an ease and comfort that can't be manufactured. And as the two continue to get to know each other, each night is an opportunity to see them prod each other and find out something new, all while enjoying a treasure chest worth of great songs.
Tickets for Friday night's show at Brady Theater are still available for $45 and $64. Doors open at 7pm for the 8pm show.
URL for this story: http://www.urbantulsa.comhttp://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A40332