Colorful Lake Tahoe performance by Jackson Browne and friends — ‘an all-weather band’

Jackson Browne doesn’t let a bit of weather get him down.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer played to a full crowd at Harveys Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena Friday night, as thunderstorms and light showers gradually gave way to a gorgeous golden-purple Lake Tahoe sunset.

“We’re an all-weather band,” he joked with the crowd. “Not to say that this is really bad weather.”

Wearing a corduroy blue sports coat over a light blue shirt, Brown kept the audience captivated with an array of newer and lesser-known tunes. One young couple in the crowd laughingly exclaimed that after an hour, they had yet to hear a song that they recognized.

Despite the weather, Browne certainly brought out the music lovers, with a Harveys bartender claiming that the crowd was larger than it was for Brad Paisley, who kicked off the concert series.

“It’s an awesome crowd, people are just out and having fun,” said the young woman, who asked not to have her name printed.

Happy concertgoers danced, sang and shouted “Jackson, Jackson, Jackson!” as the singer-songwriter and his six-piece backing band grooved away.

Lap steel guitar was a dominant force in most of the songs, particularly a slow, dreamy, reminiscent number called “These Days.” Browne switched instruments often, back and forth between electric guitar, piano and a number of acoustic guitars. He was backed  by two guitars, bass, drums and a keyboard player who joined Browne for lovely vocal harmonies from time to time.

One standout for any lover of Americana music was “You Know the Night,” a song inspired by 30 pages of notes penned by Woody Guthrie about meeting his eventual wife. Browne wrote and released the song in 2011 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the iconic folk singer’s birth.

“When I got done with it was about 15-minutes long,” he said. “I realized I couldn’t sing it without a teleprompter. But it’s Woody’s story, so you can’t really take very much away from that.”

At one point, Browne brought a semi-local guest star up onstage, Bob Scheffer from Nevada City, California. The duo shared Hank Williams Sr.’s “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”

There was an extremely poignant moment as well, when Browne dedicated a song to a fan who had planned to attend the show, but had recently passed away. The woman’s son had written Browne a letter before the show, explaining his mother’s love of the artist’s music, as well, as her work on behalf of human and animal rights, a cause deeply important to the musician.

“I usually don’t dedicate songs,” Browne said, as purple and blue stage lights blended fluidly with the deepening hues of Tahoe’s evening sky. “But this one is for Ellen.”

To see more images by Kurt E. Johnson, go to his website HERE

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About Josh Sweigert

Josh grew up on the California coast with a deep appreciation for bluegrass and string band music as well as the great outdoors. A guitarist and singer, he plays solo acoustic gigs in South Lake Tahoe.

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