Bonnie Raitt

From 06 September 2019to 22 September 2019

Bonnie Raitt

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Bonnie Raitt is a blues singer, songwriter and guitarist hailing from Burbank, California, United States who was born on the 8th of November 1949. She has released 16 albums since her debut in 1971 and has become one of the most critically acclaimed blues artists of all time.

Bonnie Raitt could well be the last major artist discovered in the New York folk scene, despite the fact that she’s a California girl born and raised. However, since her father was a succesful Broadway star, I suppose it was only a matter of time before his offspring went back to perform there. The young Raitt picked up the guitar at an early age, when she was given a Stella guitar for her 8th birthday to be precise. However, it wasn’t until she moved to the East Coast to attend Radcliffe College that she started performing, inspired as she was by her friendship with Dick Waterman, an old school bluesman, and a semester spend with him and some musician friends in Philadelphia.

I bring up the New York folk scene not because she was a singer songwriter plying her trade in the big apple, but because her first break was being spotted by a Newsweek journalist performing in the legendary Gaslight Café. This was in 1970, the year before the café closed, and very soon afterwards she was being courted by a number of record labels. She chose to go with Warner Bros., who released her debut album “Bonnie Raitt” in the winter of 1971. At the time there were very few women getting recognition for their guitar skills, but Raitt was far more than a novelty, and became critically acclaimed for her abilities as a guitarist, singer and interpreter.

However, critical acclaim doesn’t pay the bills, and though her first three records were raved about critically they weren’t selling anywhere near as much as they should have. By 1974 she was trying to experiment with a more mainstream sound at the time with her album “Streetlights” and its follow up “Home Plate”. Unfortunately that led to her losing the critical notices that she’d gotten early in her career, even a 1975 cover feature in Rolling Stone magazine couldn’t reverse her fortunes. Things were not looking good, but fortunately her 1977 “Sweet Forgiveness” saw her score her first true hit with a cover of Del Shannon’s “Runaway”.

The critics might not have been enamoured, but it revitalised her commercial fortunes, and led to a major bidding war between Columbia and Warner Bros. for her record deal. The WB won out but her luck was to end there, and neither of her follow-up albums sold anywhere near as much as her label hoped. In 1983, Raitt was finally dropped from her label, while in the midst of mounting drug and alcohol abuse problems. It’s a massive testament to her self-belief and strength that she was able to find a way out of a hole that many others would lose themselves in, and by 1987 she was clean and sober.

It still didn’t solve her commercial issues though, and after the failure of 1986’s “Nine Lives”, she was out of a contract with Warner Bros. However, in one of the most heartening comebacks in rock history, 1989 saw the release of “Nick Of Time”, an album that swept the board at the 1990 Grammy awards and topped the charts very soon afterwards. The 1990’s were uniformly kind to Raitt, with its follow up “Luck Of The Draw” selling bucket loads and netting Raitt another fistful of Grammys. 1994’s “Longing In Their Hearts” did the same. Two decades after her career began, she was the success she should have been ever since the mid-seventies.

Ever since then, she’s continued to be as succesful as they come, hailed for her guitar skills, her primal holler and her unrivalled way with a lyric. Her story continues to be one of the most inspiring ones around, and in concert, anyone can see just how utterly deserving she is of her success, no matter how late it might have come. Highly recommended.

Friday, 06 September 2019
Willie Nelson & Bonnie Raitt – Outlaw Music Festival 2019
Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion, Gilford, New Hampshire, USA

Friday, 13 September 2019
Willie Nelson & Bonnie Raitt – Outlaw Music Festival 2019
Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Saturday, 14 September 2019
Willie Nelson & Bonnie Raitt – Outlaw Music Festival 2019
Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia Beach, Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA

Sunday, 15 September 2019
Willie Nelson & Bonnie Raitt – Outlaw Music Festival 2019
Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek, Raleigh, USA

Sunday, 22 September 2019
Willie Nelson & Luke Combs – Outlaw Music Festival 2019
Riverbend Music Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

June 17, 2019 in