No doubt about it– this was an absolutely fantastic night of music. The show opened with a set by Ari Hest, who was excellent singing some songs from his new album, Shouts and Whispers. A great song, “Bona Fide,” stands out in my mind. He also has an album of Brazilian rhythms, Bluebirds of Paradise, on which he duets with Chrissi Poland. He proceeded to sing one of those songs, singing both parts of the duet– it was a great song, and fun to hear him sing both parts.
After a short intermission, Judy Collins came on with guitar backed by piano and proceeded to sing selections from her amazing songbook, including “Who Knows Where The Time Goes,” “Send in the Clowns” and others. Collins’ stage presence is so down-to-earth and inviting. She really communicates with her audience, telling stories about how songs came about. She’s truly honest and open, letting the audience into her life, both past and present. Collins brought out Ari Hest again, and told us about their collaboration on an album of duets, which they co-wrote. They played some songs together, including a fantastic rendition of “Strangers Again” from her new album. Collins also told us about this new album of duets with some names we all recognized, like Willie Nelson, Jackson Brown, Jeff Bridges, and others. I have to say, it is a real treat to listen to it live, as I listened over and over again before and since her concert.
Collins went to the piano for more of her songs, which are just so beautiful. She went back to guitar, and had Ari join again for a three song encore including “Someday Soon,” which was fantastic. The last encore song came with a story about how the author John Newton, a slave trader, found religion when one of his slave ships crashed. The show ended with “Amazing Grace,” and it truly was amazing.
– Mark J. Smith