Story and Photos By Andy ArgyrakisThe weather can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to an outdoor festival, and as looming clouds hovered then brisk pellets of rain fell, the grim reaper came knocking on Loretta Lynn's backstage door. Would she or wouldn't she take the stage during the inclimate conditions, and if lightening came, would she even be allowed to go on? Even though anxiety rippled through the crowd and everyone huddled in bunches under umbrellas, country's finest woman didn't disappoint. Not only did she brave the conditions, but she dug so vibrantly into her southern roots that no one even noticed they were soaked to the skin.
All those who stuck it out were rewarded with greatness throughout a speed set that touched on all the hits and last year's Van Lear Rose. Of course, that current project (her fastest selling to date) was the reason for being on the road, as was its overwhelming acceptance from the Grammy Awards, critical community and fans. She made sure to touch on many of its summits, especially giving credit to its inventive producer Jack White (of The White Stripes fame) and explaining who exactly he was to the older folks. Cuts like "Portland Oregon'" and the title track (accompanied by one of her daughters) brought classic country to modern times, while the old days also came into clear view thanks to "You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)" and "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man." No matter what era she was interpreting, Lynn beamed with each step of waltz-like walking, making eye contact, waving and beaming at just about every individual in the audience.
Aside from climate complications, Lynn complained on nearly a half dozen occasions that her voice was horse, dry and seemed to "have a frog in it." Her constant mentioning of the problem was a bit more than necessary, but all forgave the trooper and didn't really seem to notice the blunders. It was a bit disappointing that she had to leave the stage for a ten-minute break, during which some of her male background singers interpreted the Eagles' "Peaceful Easy Feeling" and others. But the breather was well worth it considering she came out like a thunder ball to deliver "Don't Come Home A Drinkin' (With Leavin' On Your Mind)" and "Coal Miner's Daughter." Lynn even kept the holiday in mind for the patriotic salute "God Bless America," which sounded a whole hell of a lot cooler than anyone on the planet who's previously performed it. No encore was needed (nor was it given) and with that the legend disappeared into the murky gray skyline as her sopping wet supporters filed out still fawning.
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