Lovett to return to perform at Brady Theater
BY JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
Sunday, August 26, 2012
8/27/12 at 12:40 PM
Wednesday night, country troubadour Lyle Lovett brings his distinctive brand of music - and his Large Band - back to Tulsa.
He'll return to the first Tulsa stage upon which he performed, back in 1987 when he opened for Michael Martin Murphey.
"I sat in the balcony and listened to his set after I played," he said in a recent (and rare) telephone interview. "It's such a historical hall - it was originally built to be the largest concert venue between Houston and Kansas City."
The man knows his Tulsa history.
"What individuals and what communities have done to save historic venues like the Brady is always interesting. I get to see a lot of very cool places," he said.
"People don't realize how much it costs to keep a venue like that. It's certainly not easy over all these years and I'm lucky to be able to play in it and share that history.
"The Brady is a really charming place," he said. The first time he played there "was on the 17th of March, 1987, I remember because it was St. Patrick's Day and it was good fun."
This time, too, he brings with him music from a new album, "Release Me," his last for Curb Records.
The album's filled with covers of songs he's performed, sometimes for decades, and all-star collaborations with folks like k.d. lang.
"I did 'Release Me' with k.d. lang because I've known her since the 1980s and she has such a deep respect for country music that I really wanted to do this with her."
He said he felt the same way with all the people he included on this album. They're all friends and respected colleagues, he said: Kat Edmonson, Sean and Sara Watkins, Keith Sewell, Luke Bulla and longtime guitarist Ray Herndon.
And the songs are recorded because they've become so beloved in his live sets, too. The Townes Van Zandt tune "White Freightliner Blues" has been done for years as a way to feature the players in the band, he said.
"Several of these songs I learned back in the '70s, like 'Brown-Eyed Handsome Man' I learned in 1976, and songs like 'Dress of Laces' and 'Isn't That So,' I've been playing since 1978.
"There are songs I've played throughout the course of my career. The only song that I learned for the sessions is 'Release Me,' which is a classic country song that I grew up listening to."
Look for most of them in his concert Wednesday, too, he said.
"We're playing almost all the songs from that album and having a good time playing it. ... This version of the Large Band is appropriate for the material."
He has 10 members this time out, including himself. The number's fluctuated from 16 to 10 through the years.
"It depends on what we're playing and instrumentation," he said.
He said the one track he learned just for the album was "Release Me," a tongue-in-cheek kiss-off to his record label.
He grew up hearing the Ray Price and Kitty Wells version, and it's a song that's been with him his entire life, he said.
Curb is well-known in the music biz for holding onto its artists, sometimes to the performer's chagrin.
"Yes, of course," he said. "The album title's a joke. Because my record deal over the years has been with the same two companies - Curb and Universal. Curb is infamous for keeping people to the very end of their record deals."
Lovett was with the label more than 25 years and released 11 albums through it.
"You know, they've been great to me. But in the last couple of years there's been a lot of tension because of Tim McGraw and his lawsuit with Curb. So, you know, I did a certain amount of piling on," he said, then laughed.
McGraw sued so he could sign with another label, but a court decided in June that he still owed Curb one more album under the contract he signed with that company. McGraw also moved to Big Machine Records, and Curb is fighting that, too.
His career is one that's ever-evolving, like his live shows. There's always some twist in the incarnation of his band, his venue, his sound, his Large Band and how and what they play. He's performed in Tulsa over the years as a solo act, with special guests and with his Large Band.
He's a regular through the Sooner State - if he's not playing music, he's working with his horse, Smart and Shiney.
"Usually a couple of times a year I'm there. Just this summer I was National Reining Horse Association Derby, which is in June, and gosh, every year for the last 11-12 years I've gone to the National Reining Horse Association for charity, which starts on Thanksgiving Day in Oklahoma City." He said his love of music is much like his love of animals.
"I compare them in that you can always learn more than you know. You can always get better at doing either one of those things.
"Anything - anything - that you do, no matter how much experience you have or how accomplished you might be - you can always learn.
"That's one of the things I love about playing music is the chance to grow in your ability and the chance to grow in what you know is endless. It's the same way working with horses. It's a lifelong pursuit.
"The old PBS show about the British lady and dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse, she used to do. One of her catch phrases was 'There are no bad dogs, just bad owners.' There's something to that. Animals have no agenda."
Nor does his music, he said. It just wants to be played, and he just wants to play it well. He said every time he takes the stage is new, that he learns more about his craft, even after more than three decades of playing, writing and recording music.
And, though his time with Curb may be through, he isn't near done with his career, he said.
"I'm not gonna stop playing and singing and I'm not going to stop writing or making recordings."
Lyle Lovett & His Large Band
When: Doors 7 p.m., showtime 8 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Brady Theater, 105 W. Brady St.
Tickets: All-ages. Tickets start at $45, plus fees, available at Reasors locations, Starship, Buy for Less, by calling 1-866-977-6849 and online at tulsaworld.com/brady.
Original Print Headline: Lovett, Large Band to perform at Brady
Jennifer Chancellor 918-581-8346