Jazz and Blues Fest at Poplar Creek

Bonnie Raitt - Bruce Hornsby

Hoffman Estates, IL

August 25, 1994

First Appeared in The Music Box, September/October 1994, Volume 1, #4

Written by John Metzger


Bonnie Raitt and Bruce Hornsby paid a visit to Poplar Creek on the rather muggy night of August 25. Hornsby stole the show with his playful piano style and incredible jazz band. This was the same collective that backed him when he visited the Arie Crowne last November, but this time there was no surprise visit from Béla Fleck.

That didn't slow things down a bit, however, as Hornsby and company blasted through a mixture of old and new material with a cover of the Grateful Dead's Scarlet Begonias thrown in, just for fun. Hornsby's version is a bit different from the Dead's, and it sounded as if it were performed by a mariachi band.

Not surprisingly, Hornsby jammed out every song he played, adding a dimension to his compositions that, with the exception of his latest outing Harbor Lights, is sadly missing from all of his studio work. Even Across the River sounded better live than in the studio, regardless of the fact that Jerry Garcia's solo obviously was missing.

Other standouts included a very lengthy medley Jacob's Ladder and Barcelona Mona, the funky Rainbow's Cadillac, and lounge jazz Talk of the Town. Each of these tunes completely struck a laid-back and mellow ambience, even though Hornsby pounded out some killer piano solos. Hornsby encored with a pair of beautiful ballads: Mandolin Wind and Fields of Grey.

Bonnie Raitt, proved to be a little disappointing. Sometimes her songs contained her signature blues, slide guitar sound but too often, she spent time playing keyboards. Even stranger, she already had two keyboardists in her band. When she had her guitar in hand, however, things were quite different.  Raitt is one of the best slide guitarists around, and she was quite able to prove it when she was willing to do so. In fact, whenever she combined her stellar guitar technique with her raspy, heartfelt vocals, the result was superb.

Raitt managed to tear through a few tunes, including I Sho Do and Love Sneakin' Up On You. Even better were the reggae-style Cool Clear Water and the beautiful ballad Circle Dance, which she dedicated to her dad. Bruce Hornsby joined her to add some pretty keyboards to the well-sung ballad.

Harbor Lights is available from Barnes & Noble.
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The Best of Bonnie Raitt is available from Barnes & Noble.
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Copyright © 1994 The Music Box