Living large in Beaver Creek: Lyle Lovett comes to town
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado Hes country. Hes blues. Hes gospel. Hes jazz. Hes Lyle Lovett. And he cant be pigeonholed. Lovetts music crosses so many genres that critics have never been able to categorize him. However, they all agree that hes good. In fact, with homage to his most recent album, Lyle Lovett and His Large Band Its Not Big Its Large, Lovett is not just good, hes great.Lovett, an only child, was born in Klein, Texas, and raised on the family horse ranch. He began writing songs, in the late 70s, while attending Texas A&M, where he studied journalism and German. Soon he began performing his songs at local clubs and folk festivals. Later, while studying abroad as a graduate student, he continued to write and play. It wasnt until he returned home, in the early 80s, that he was zealous about pursuing a musical career and began playing clubs throughout Texas.In 1984, Austin singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith, whom Lovett had interviewed while in college, recorded his song If I Were the Woman You Wanted, on her Once in a Very Blue Moon album. Lovett also sang on the album. Eventually, producer Tony Brown, from MCA Records in Nashville, heard a demo tape of Lovetts songs and signed him to a contract.
It was clear from the beginning that Lovetts taste in music was much more than just country-western. Although the genre, in many respects, is the foundation of his sound, hes always pushing the boundaries, and its no surprise to find a combination of jazz, folk or soul on one album. Mixing it up is virtually Lovetts trademark. He might perform with His Large Band, a modified big band complete with horns and guitars or, perhaps, acoustically with a quartet, as he is Wednesday night at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek, with friends John Hage, cello, Viktor Krauss, upright bass, Mitch Watkins, electric guitar and Keith Sewell, mandolin and acoustic guitar.We are so excited to be able to present an artist of Lyle Lovetts stature in our intimate setting, said Kris Sabel, executive director of the Vilar Performing Arts Center. And the fact that it is an acoustic evening is icing on the cake, as our venue is just perfect for this type of show.John Dakin, vice president of communications for the Vail Valley Foundation, had the opportunity to meet Lovett many years ago.He is one of most genuine, down-to-earth individuals I have ever met, Dakin said. When you have someone who is an unassuming person and plays great music, how can you lose?
And its Lovetts unassuming persona that fans find so endearing. As Alec Wilkinson, a writer for The New Yorker, who spent time with Lovett in Klein, noted, He is very polite and has something of the typical country musicians attitude that one must never affect to have risen about ones beginnings. His face has the solemn and handsome dignity of a workingman of the thirties, a farmer who hears the sound of your tractor stalling in the field and shows up to help you get it started.Lovett also has appeared in several films, including The Player, Short Cuts, Pret-a-Porter and Cookies Fortune, all directed by the late Robert Altman. But it is Lovetts unique array of music that has garnered devotees of almost every musical genre. There is something about this four-time Grammy winner that fans find captivating. Perhaps its a combination of his slightly raspy voice, his gift of storytelling and his masterful delivery.While Lovetts albums, such as Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, Joshua Judges Ruth and The Road to Ensenada, are a potpourri of country, folk big-band swing and traditional pop, Step Inside This House, pays tribute to those who influenced him, including such country masters as Townes Van Zandt, Walter Hyatt and Steven Fromholz, to name a few. His latest album, Its Not Big Its Large, a compilation of country, folk, blues and gospel, has been praised by critics. Once again, Lovett deviates from the traditional to present his eclectic musical style.
And theres no doubt about it Lovett does likes to march to his own drummer. As Parke Puterbaugh, of the Greensboro News Record, observed, Even Lovetts album covers reflect his predilection for offbeat modes of self-expression. Every one of his releases, save for the first one, is an arty black-and-white study of some sort.Theres something about black and white that I find compelling in a mysterious way, Lovett told Puterbaugh. Its not quite as literal as a color photo. A good black-and-white photo can inspire your imagination in the same way that music is supposed to. Thats the parallel I draw that music is supposed to provoke the imagination rather than spell everything out.The kind of music I like to listen to, anyway.E-mail comments about this story to email@example.com.
What: An acoustic evening with Lyle Lovett.Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek.When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.Cost: $79/$95/$115, based on seating. Tickets are currently sold out for this show, but you can call the box office to be put on a waiting list. More information: Call 970-845-TIXS or visit http://www.vilarpac.org.