The Road Is Still Her Middle Name

"The Road Is Still Her Middle Name "
Rev. Peter E. Bauer

I first heard Bonnie Raitt in 1971, senior year in high school between writing for my high school newspaper and doing creative writing, I stumbled upon this female artist from Boston who had this sultry voice, played guitar, especially wicked slide guitar and was not only established in folk and rock, but had a tenacious commitment to the blues. Her early albums sampled her struggles with relationships " ( Got To Give It Up) or Let Me Go " and her rendition of Mose Allison's " Mercy " said it all
" Everybody's crying mercy,
But they don't know the meaning of the word."
Given the early 1970's, she was also adept in describing how substances could also complicate romance as she observed in Randy Newman's " Guilty "
" Got some whisky from the barman
Got some cocaine from a friend
I just had to keep on movin'
Til I was back in your arms again"
Bonnie's real trademark, however, was her biting slide guitar playing that rollic- like roadhouse blues along with that shock of her brilliant red hair.
By 1974, she would team up with Jackson Browne and they would work together. I saw them both on the same bill at a very memorable concert at the Paramount Theatre in Portland, Or during the fall of that year. Still now , there is not a finer version of " My Opening Farewell " than the duet that Jackson and Bonnie performed. There would be also a latter memorable show that I caught with seminary buddies at Princeton University's Dillon Gym ( 1976 ). I remember that I and several others set up the folding chairs on the gym floor and we got to see the show for free.
I also liked Bonnie Raitt because she was and still continues to be a social- justice minded artist. She was one of the founding members of MUSE ( Musicians United For Safe Energy ) (1979) She and Jackson Browne, Graham Nash and others performed musical benefit concerts to raise money for grassroots organizations that were working for a non-nuclear power energy policy to halt the storage of spent nuclear plutonium fuel in underground facilities. She has also worked tirelessly for Native American Indian rights and autonomy and economic justice.
On April 27, 2016, Bonnie Raitt brought her " Dig In Deep " Tour to the wonderful acoustically designed Moody Theatre in Austin, TX; the site for tapings of the PBS program Austin City Limits. Bonnie's two- hour show was a mix of new material from " Dig In Deep " such as " Undone " "Gypsy In Me " and " The Coming Around Is Coming Through. " along with older gems like " I Feel The Same ", " Love Sneaking Up On You ' and "Something To Talk About ". She paid homage to her Los Angeles influences like Los Lobos and Little Feat and also noted the blues great Sipple Wallace with "Women Be Wise "
Bonnie is playing with a terrific band that features George Marinelli ( Guitar ), Mike Finnigan ( Keyboards ), James" Hutch " Hutchinson ( Bass ) and Ricky Fataar ( Drums ). Both George Marinelli and Mike Finnigan added mesmerizing playing of guitar and keyboards to Bonnie's guitar and voice.
Among the most emotional evocative performances of the night were " Angel from Montgomery", " Louise " and of course " I Can't Make You Love Me. " She reminded us of loss and emptiness in relationships with :
" How the hell does a person
Go to work in the morning
And come home in the evening
And have nothing to say ? "
Bonnie commented " Oh, I've gone to a deep place. " She then countered this with regarding Austin " You are doing a lot more building here since I was here last time. Can people still afford to live here ? It's like that in San Francisco; we'll have to move four hours north. "
Another great highlight of the night was the tribute to B.B. King with " Don't Answer The Door " which featured sterling keyboard work by Mike Finnigan.
Bonnie Raitt has always been an active touring artist. Her song off of the 1985 come-back album " Nick Of Time " said it all " The Road's My Middle Name. "
Bonnie observes
"Hello, goodbye, honey
It's been good and I must be going
Restless, I guess
When I'm in one place for too long
I don't know why
But I'm like the wind and I just keep blowing free
Must be the gypsy in me, yeah
Gypsy in me, yeah
Gypsy in me
Gypsy in me, yeah"
( Gypsy In Me )
Bonnie Raitt and her band are playing at the top of their game. She seems to be really happy and its shows in the grit and the delivery of her music.
May the road continue to expand for her a good long while for the enjoyment of all of us.
May it be so.