Home

It was a triple bill of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Indigo Girls and Shawn Mullins a cool Friday night in June, the perfect atmosphere for some hot music. And though the showed started early at, 6:30 PM, there was already a surprisingly good-sized crowd on hand well before the activities were to begin. For those of you who have not experienced Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, the park contains a massive picnic area that surrounds the pavilion where the stage is held. Some stay in the lawn area until the headliner hits the stage, others remain in the picnic area and just enjoy the ambience while listening to the concert to the speakers set up throughout. This show was no different. 

 

 

The first thing I noticed when I first heard the Indigo Girls over twenty years ago was their vocal harmonies, an interesting blend. Amy Ray has a very deep voice for a female singer and Emily Saliers has the higher and much more versatile voice. This makes for an interesting vocal blend. My only issue with this is the repetition of this formula on every song though I am not that familiar with their catalog of work in its entirety. I found that even though their sound is quite unique, after a couple songs their sound could get a bit predictable. Having said that, the crowd certainly approved of what they heard, many of them singing along and dancing in place.

 

 

The Indigo Girls were backed up by three other performers, a multi instrumentalist, a violinist/vocalist and a singer/guitarist. Even with the augmentation of the line up, I still found a lot of their songs have few variables to the band’s overall sound. The tempo and harmonies were just extremely similar from song to song.

 

 

Shawn Mullins opened up the night with an acoustic guitar, his own voice and an accordion player. This exceptional baritone singer had a really folky vibe that was a great warm up for the crowd. The pavilion had a lot of empty seats still at that point as concert goers milled about the grounds, but the people that were watching his act really appeared to enjoy his music. Mullins’ sense of humor was also very refreshing.

 

 

The act of the night in my opinion was the one in the middle, Mary Chapin Carpenter. She had a typical five-piece band line up, drums, bass, keys and guitar. Backing vocals were provided by the bass and keys players. Now, I don’t know why, but Carpenter is a performer I can honestly say slipped under my radar. A real veteran, her performance was amazing, as Carpenter played a great variety of material - and played it to perfection. If I were to label her music I would say folk….no, country….no, Rock and Roll….all of the above. I hate categories because of their limiting definitions anyway.  I like variety and her portion of the show was a great example of that. I really thought Mary should have been the headliner after watching her, but the Girls have a very strong following. It’s not right to say a certain performer is better than another, so I won’t go there. Rather, I simply found Carpenter the performer of the night.

 

The Indigo Girls is still an act worth seeing. I think maybe branching out a bit may be in their best interest. Their fans would probably disagree, that’s okay. Their following is very loyal, and this could be partly due to their social position…just a couple girls doing it on their own for the most part. I should probably listen a little more clearly to the lyrics, that is probably where the variety of their material lies. I’m sure it is also somewhat difficult to provide a lot of different tempos and rhythmic variations when you play without a live drummer. Heading into the show, I wasn’t sure what their lineup was going to be since I have mostly seen Amy and Emily play as a duet.

 

 

The Indigo Girls closed the show with “Closer to Fine”, the song that really put them on the map. The crowd was probably louder than the Girls were at times during that song. That’s what it’s all about really anyway, communication. If you can get an audience to respond like that, mission accomplished. So, to sum it up my criticism of the lack of variety was clearly only in my eyes. Their audience didn’t view it like that. I guess for me Bob Dylan is the same way. To the average listener, many of his songs sound the same. Am I comparing The Indigo Girls to Bob Dylan? I guess in a way, their appeal is in the same vein. Just simple songs played with their own particular flavor. Folk music is what it says it is, music of the people. The people responded, that’s all that really matters, not the opinion of one critic. 

 

Published in In Concert

Review: Machinal at Greenhouse Theater Center

16 August 2017 in Theatre in Review

Machinal refers to an automated or mechanical system. Sophie Treadwell's 1929 play "Machinal" takes its styling from this theme. Directed…

"The Rembrandt" begins September 7th with John Mahoney and Francis Guinan

14 August 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Steppenwolf Theatre Company opens its 42nd Season with the Chicago premiere of The Rembrandt, written by Jessica Dickey and directed…

Latin Paradise - Santana Live at Ravinia

13 August 2017 in In Concert

The summer concert season continues at Ravinia. Midsummer brings to the Midwest one of the toughest guitarists on the planet.…

Delbert McClinton - One of the Fortunate Few

10 August 2017 in In Concert

I have been waiting to see Delbert McClinton for a while. It just never happened for me…timing, etc. Finally, it…

Shattered Globe's The Heavens are Hung in Black - September 7 - October 21, 2017 at Theater Wit

09 August 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Shattered Globe Theatre is pleased to launch its 2017-18 Season with the Chicago premiere of Pulitzer Prize nominee James Still’s …

The American Mercy Tour: Mercy Killers and Side Effects - September 7 - October 8, 2017 at Greenhouse Theater Center

08 August 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Greenhouse Theater Center and Poor Box Theater, in association with D.C’s award winning Taffety Punk Theatre Company, is pleased to…

The Casting Auction's annual CASTING PARTY - Friday, November 3, 2017 at Michelle's Ballroom

08 August 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Anyone can be a star – for a price! The annual CASTING PARTY is a unique opportunity for amateur theatre…

William Petersen and more join the cast of Steppenwolf's upcoming "The Minutes" by Tracy Letts

03 August 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Steppenwolf Theatre Company announced today additional casting for the highly anticipated world premiere of The Minutes by ensemble member, Pulitzer…

Shattered Globe Theatre Announces 2017-18 Season - Three Chicago Premieres!

03 August 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Shattered Globe Theatre is pleased to announce its 2017-18 Season, featuring three Chicago premiere productions! The season kicks off this…

About Face Theatre Announces 2017-18 Season - Three Midwest Premieres!

03 August 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

About Face Theatre is pleased to announce its 2017-18 Season, featuring three Midwest premieres! The season kicks off this fall/winter…

Strawdog Opens with Robert O'Hara's "Barbecue" August 28th at Steppenwolf 1700 Theater

03 August 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Strawdog Theatre Company and Artistic Directors Michael Dailey, Heath Hays and Anderson Lawfer are proud to announce the first production…

The great Delbert McClinton to play City Winery August 9th

03 August 2017 in In Concert

Delbert McClinton may not be a household name, but he should be. A singer-songwriter, harmonica player, pianist and guitarist, we…

 

 

10 Years! Fave Issue Covers

Register

Latest Articles

  • Review: Machinal at Greenhouse Theater Center
    Written by
    Machinal refers to an automated or mechanical system. Sophie Treadwell's 1929 play "Machinal" takes its styling from this theme. Directed by Jacob Harvey, Greenhouse Theater Center brings this work back to Chicago for the first time in many years. Maybe…
  • "The Rembrandt" begins September 7th with John Mahoney and Francis Guinan
    Written by
    Steppenwolf Theatre Company opens its 42nd Season with the Chicago premiere of The Rembrandt, written by Jessica Dickey and directed by Hallie Gordon. Currently in rehearsals, this subtle and elegant play features ensemble members Francis Guinan as Henry/Rembrandt and John…
  • Latin Paradise - Santana Live at Ravinia
    Written by
    The summer concert season continues at Ravinia. Midsummer brings to the Midwest one of the toughest guitarists on the planet. The act that has graced the stages with the most famous performers at Woodstock has come to Ravinia in Highland…
  • Delbert McClinton - One of the Fortunate Few
    Written by
    I have been waiting to see Delbert McClinton for a while. It just never happened for me…timing, etc. Finally, it happened. I even took my Mom who is as big a fan as I am. Warming up for Delbert was…

Guests Online

We have 60 guests and no members online

Buzz Chicago on Facebook Buzz Chicago on Twitter