by Patricia Grandjean
Jun 27, 2013
07:14 AM
Box Office

Lyle Lovett stars in Ridgefield Playhouse Gala

 
Lyle Lovett stars in Ridgefield Playhouse Gala

Musical omnivore Lyle Lovett, 55, has released 14 albums in the last 27 years, and along the way won four Grammy Awards. While his original music typically incorporates elements of country, swing, jazz, folk, gospel, rock and blues, his latest album, Release Me, is largely devoted to covers he loves to play live—such as Jesse Winchester’s “Isn’t That So” and Michael Franks’ “White Boy Lost in the Blues”—and marks the end of his long contract with the Curb/Universal label. He’s been touring behind it since February, and this month, he and his acoustic band (featuring drummer Russ Kunkel, bassist Viktor Krauss, fiddler Luke Bulla and guitarist/mandolin player Keith Sewell) come to the Ridgefield Playhouse July 8 to celebrate the theater’s summer gala. Call (203) 438-5795 or visit ridgefieldplayhouse.org for more info.

On being a road warrior: “I play 100 to 120 dates a year. I’ve been very fortunate over the years to work with really talented people, so when we gear up and go out on the road, I always look forward to it. I’ve always encouraged the musicians I perform with to be spontaneous and improvise, which makes what we do onstage challenging and fun. We’ve never set in stone what’s going to happen on any given night.”

On being named Texas State Musician: “The Texas Council on the Arts meets every two years to name a poet laureate, state visual artists—both two-dimensional and three-dimensional—and a state musician. It’s a great honor, all designed to lobby the state legislature for funding for the arts in schools.”

On songs he wishes he had written: “Most of them. It’s easy to like a good one. Every song I’ve recorded that somebody else has written is a song I admire greatly. Take ‘Release Me.’ That’s just such a wonderful lyric, and melody and rhythm. It’s a great, concise song, and one I’ve listened to my whole life. But it’s the only one on this album that I haven’t been playing for years.”

On why he hasn’t been playing ‘Release Me’ for years: “I came up playing the acoustic rooms, the songwriter rooms, the original music rooms. If instead I’d been playing the Texas dance halls, it would have been a staple of my act. My parents used to love to dance. They both worked, and so they would take me with them to do whatever they did on the weekends, because we spent so much time apart during the week. So I went to the dances with them a lot, where there was always a live band playing that song.”

On how he came up with the slowed-down version of Chuck Berry’s ‘Brown Eyed Handsome Man’: “I learned that song back in 1976, and just sort of learned it that way. I was playing it solo, so it just seemed appropriate to change it from the rock ’n’ roll version. In an uptempo rock song, sometimes the lyric is obscured by the instrumentation. But Berry’s lyric on this song is really neat. In my version, I straighten out some of the twists he always did—for example, I say ‘Venus de Milo’ rather than ‘Milo Venus’—to show how serious it is. It’s poetic and poignant, I think.”

On when it’s best for him to write songs: “There’s actually scientific data to support the idea that your creativity is greater when you’re in the shower [laughs]. I do find it difficult to write on the road. I think any time my day is not so full is best. There has to be a little peace and quiet, time to pick up my guitar and just play around, that’s really the essential thing. I do better early in the morning before the business day starts, or even late at night. But I’m actually more of a morning person when I’m not on the road.”

Lyle Lovett stars in Ridgefield Playhouse Gala

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