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Review and photos by Andy ArgyrakisTechnically speaking, Wynonna is primarily labeled a country singer, but perhaps more accurately, she’s an expert song stylist with a voice that can just as naturally gravitate towards soul, folk, blues and good old fashioned rock’ n roll. The on again/off again member of The Judds and frequent solo star laid it all on the line during her most understated outing since becoming famous, which also proved pretty artistically ambitious as a semi-acoustic, living room-styled affair free of production frills.
Rather than the larger scaled venues she’s been to known to play alongside mother Naomi or the grand arena displays of her own, the 2015 edition of "Stories & Song" came to the intimate Star Plaza Theatre and sounded absolutely spectacular on the venue’s recently updated sound system. Along with her band The Big Noise, which features husband/multi-instrumentalist Cactus Moser (also of Highway 101 fame), the veteran diva delivered nearly two hours of hits, covers of all stripes and personal history.
Whether performing alone acoustically or inviting her musical pals to assist with the stripped down interpretations, Wynonna’s booming vocals were the evening’s leading instrument, which was especially astounding given its vast repertoire. Though they may appear to be divergent on paper, The Judds’ classic country favorite "Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout The Good Old Days)," Avalon’s inspirational "Testify To Love," Eric Clapton’s pop/rocker "Change The World" and a blustery blues encore anchored by Robert Johnson’s "Crossroads" were all sealed with Wynonna’s unmistakable stamp.
In between, she shared countless morsels of wisdom from the three decade journey, like learning the showbiz ropes in shared dressing rooms with Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette, being mentored by Johnny Cash, mending fences with her mother and a desire to grow "better over bitter" amidst a music industry losing sight of its legendary past. Radio formats may have changed, especially within the context of commercial country, but by the time Wynonna got to her electrifying "No One Else On Earth" and spine chilling "Dream Chaser," today’s hitmakers could’ve surely stood to take some copious notes on what it takes to last.
Upcoming concert highlights at the Star Plaza Theatre include Herman’s Hermits, The Grass Roots and The Buckinghams on Saturday, February 7, The Valentine’s Love Jam (headlined by Bell Biv Devoe) on Saturday, February 14, Travis Tritt on Sunday, March 1, the 11th Annual Chi-Town Blues Festival on Saturday, March 14, The Moody Blues on Thursday, April 9 and another major country concert announcement coming soon. For additional details, visit www.starplazatheatre.com and www.ticketmaster.com.
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