John Prine brings his magic to Durham Performing Arts Center for special night of music
Third time’s the charm they say, and for those folks saying it, I resoundingly say “YES” because a great many of those folks were alongside me, singing, clapping, stomping right along with our buddy, John Prine. Singer, song-writer John Prine performed Friday, Nov. 1 to a sold-out crowd at the Durham Performing Arts Center on his Tree of Forgiveness Tour. A two-time Grammy-winner, John Prine knows how to real you in with incredible lyrics, that stick with you vibrant as pictures in a book!
The concert started promptly at 8:00 pm, with few empty seats, you know the folks that come in later for the “main event”, stomping on your toes, but at least apologizing. I kinda felt like a member of the younger crowd, until a handsome 11 year old sat beside me with this dad. (how cool is that?)
I was so glad that John brought along the amazing Ben Dickey, hailing from Arkansas to open the show, Dickey saying this time was the dream of a lifetime coming true, touring with John Prine. Dickey credits Mississippi John Hurt and Prine for saving his life when he was 21. Away he went with soulful strumming and words that really make you think. I sat there, “tangled up in the darkness listen to the glory of his magic”, go Ben go because you are most worthy.
The stage came to life as John and the guys came onstage, featuring a backdrop the size of the entire stage of a majestic tree, “the tree of forgiveness”, it took on a life of its own, with beautiful vibrant green lighting, fading to warm autumn red, then a sepia to black and white, very subtle.
If you are the person who likes the “same old same old” songs-John’s tour is not for you. It is about fresh new talent, collaboration and lifting up new musicians. I get surprised at the last concerts, with people screaming out “SAM STONE! GRANDPA!”, to which John eloquently replied this time, “We been following the Tree of Forgiveness, since April, and playing them this past year. We’re gonna play some of these, and some of the old ones too. We’re not going anywhere, so don’t you either.”, and off we went with that powerful first chord! If you are a fan, when you attend his shows, it is almost impossible not to sing along to your favorite songs as you get swept up in the energy of his performance.
Caravan of Fools, yes, with a nod to our current administration. Lake Marie, Souvenirs, Sam Stone, Summer’s End, Egg & Daughter Nite, Lincoln Nebraska, 1967 Crazy Bone, which was started by one of his fishing buddies, whereas Pat McLaughlin and John wrote the song in about 15 minutes. Prine was so pleased with the song, he called his friend to tell him about it. With a big hearty laugh he told John he got it wrong, the place was NORFOLK, Nebraska, to which John quipped, “well that’s no go, nothing rhymes with Norfolk”.
John give full credit to his band, Jason Wilber, Kenneth Pebbles, a drummer who joined, that John said he really didn’t know HOW much he needed him, and David Jencks, the world’s most famous bass player, he’s known for 26 years. Fats Kaplin was introduced as someone that could play anything, and his haunting steel guitar along with “fiddling” skills that left you in amazement and awe.
I was so glad that John brought along the amazing Ben Dickey, of which Prine said, “I haven’t heard such great picking like that, since playing with my friend, Steve Goodman”, a higher compliment could not be paid to Dickey. Goodman, an incredible musician, songwriter, and lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, succumbed to leukemia in 1984.
Ben and Fiona Prine came out to finish the night with Paradise, a photo backdrop of Paradise, Kentucky Post Office, the day before it was torn down, eerily brought the song to life. An American treasure that is finally receiving the accolades that he deserves at age 73, we can all be so lucky to love life and keep on creating. I’m looking for concert number four!
Review by Larice White, enjoys finding four leaf clovers, writing, and catching John Prine concerts.
Photos by Joe White.