Reviewed by C. Eric Banister
riginally conceived as a "girl's night out" for singer-songwriters Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin and Emmylou Harris, the trio decided to add guitarist and vocalist Buddy Miller to the mix. The result is the "Three Girls and Their Buddy Tour."
Miller said he was the luckiest guy to get to do this and that he was glad they asked because it was a combination he would have followed anyway, but now he had a better seat. The tour is scheduled to run only 12 dates before the crew, joined by Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt embarks on a 6-day Caribbean cruise.
Seated on the stage, the group took turns performing their songs accompanied by Miller and often joined on harmony or percussion by the others. Harris, looking regal in the middle with a flowing shirt and her silver hair perfectly lit, started the show with a slightly slowed down version of "Jupiter Rising." Griffin followed with "Chief" then Colvin with "Four Walls" before Miller got the crowd rocking with "Shelter Me" where all of the "Girls" accompanied on various forms of percussion.
This set the pattern for the rest of the night as that order was followed as the artists ran through their songs. The set list changes nightly.
During her turns, Harris ran through "Love and Happiness," "Sweet Old World," "Gone Gone Gone" and "Michelangelo." As self-described "senior citizen" of the group, the 60-year-old Harris seemed both pleased and proud to be sharing the stage with three artists whom she has directly influenced in their careers.
Griffin played songs from her albums and a few surprises such as "Riding With the Amazons," "Top of the World," the Tin Pan Alley tune "Tomorrow Night" and "Love Throw A Line." Griffin came off as very personable telling several stories before her turns, and the crowd responded very positively.
Grammy winner Colvin seemed to be the odd girl out. Although friends with all, even playing in Miller's band nearly 30 years ago, she was very self-effacing and seemed to keep her head down most of the time. With a strong body of work to draw from, Colvin's performance was a weak spot because out of five songs, she relied on two covers, The Band's "Acadian Driftwood" and Hiatt's "The Way We Make A Broken Heart." While she did a fine job on both, it was a little disappointing not to hear more of her material. From her catalog she did pull out fine versions of "Facts About Jimmy" and "Diamond in the Rough."
Miller, who received a loud response from the crowd when introduced, ran through "All My Tears," which Harris has recorded, "How Strong is My Love" and "Poison Love" accompanied on harmony by Colvin. Miller and Harris performed "Burning the Midnight Oil" in tribute to Porter Wagoner. Harris noted that Wagoner's last album helped her remember why she loved country music because when listening to the radio, she would forget the reason.
The show wrapped up with the group singing "Green Pastures" together before the ladies did an a capella version of "Sleep Little Baby" from the "O Brother" soundtrack. The final song of the evening was a great rendition of Griffin's "Mary" with the group chiming in on guitar and vocals.
The only downside to the show was the fact that it was very ballad heavy with the mood being lifted only occasionally. It was evident the artist respected one another and were having a lot of fun onstage, but the songs tempered that mood almost to a fault.