I had the opportunity to go to the Brandi Carlile concert at Schermerhorn Symphony Center Sunday night. Carlile had to cancel the concert date she had booked for this spring here in Nashville because she wasn't well – and she was about 7 months pregnant. Feeling so bummed, and guilty about missing the concert, the alternative country/folk/rock singer booked a two night engagement, for all who had bought tickets for the night she had been ill and those who didn't get tickets the first time around. And because, she said, She Loves Nashville!
I went into the concert hall and sat down, drink in hand, waiting for the opening act. The orchestra seats were empty when the lights came up and there were three people on stage, one gal and two guys, holding guitars. To my surprise (sadly, I had to be told, as I didn't previously know of this artist), it was Brandi Carlisle and the twin cuties who back her up already taking the stage, sans Orchestra accompaniment; 'We are our own opening act” as I believe Carlisle laughingly put it.
Having never heard of Carlisle, I had no idea what to expect of her performance, other than what I had read on the Nashville Symphony website. I like going to a concert not knowing an artist's work, leaving my mind a black canvas (those who know me are thinking, “When isn't your mind a blank canvas?”) and free to form my own impressions and opinions about the artist.
When the concert began, I immediately knew that Carlile was, on a personality level, friendly, bubbly, fun, outspoken and very intelligent, which led me to think I was going to enjoy the evening. But, when the first song was on the country music end of the spectrum - you all know I'm not a fan - I began having doubts that I would like the music as well as I immediately like the woman. Then the second song was yodeling. Yep, I said yodeling, and my hopes for the evening immediately dropped down several more levels. When the third song was also country, my hopes were totally dashed and I thought I would be skipping out at intermission.
But, when the fourth song was a gorgeous folk ballad called “Again Today”, I knew that I would gladly listen to the not-so-country country music of Carlile just to get to more music like this one. Then, when the beautiful and no-doubt very talented, likeable singer and her hat-wearing twin backup singers-guitar players stepped to the front of the stage, away from the microphones and PA system, to give us a raw, natural and therefore simply beautiful version of one of her songs, with only the near-perfect acoustics of the Laura Turner hall as their “tool” to be heard in such a large room, I instantly knew I was at that moment a fan of Brandi Carlile. And I sit here as I write this, listening to Carlile on Pandora. (Which just played her doing Elvis' "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You"; perfection.)
The rest of the evening did not change my new fan status one bit, especially when the Nashville Symphony joined Carlile and her fab-u-lous backup duo. And to top off an evening that I ended up thoroughly enjoying, Carlile did a stirring rendition of Hallelujah as her last song, which was in fact, the absolute best version I've ever heard of the song, and it's one of my all-time favorites. Cool note: the lovely artist dedicated the song to her two-week old baby. That's how badly she wanted to make it up to Nashville for having to cancel her earlier concert. Kudos, Mommy!
And Schermerhorn keeps on rockin': Coming up at my favorite music venue is Maxwell July 23(my baby sister's birthday), Bos Skaggs August 12 (my birthday) and Lyle Lovett and his Large Band August 13. Get your tickets and more info at nashvillesymphony.org