Jackson Browne's show at The Ferguson Center for the Arts on Wednesday was powered by memorable songs, sharp playing and plenty of casual, California-style comradery.
His show featured many collaborations with Sara Watkins, his fiddle-playing opening act, as well as members of her band. Guitarist Val McCallum sauntered out to sing a song of his own and add hot solos to Browne's tunes. Old friend Bruce Hornsby showed up, too, giving the night a shot of hometown flavor.
Hornsby arrived clutching a mountain dulcimer, his secondary weapon of choice these days, and contributed nice Appalachian drone and high harmonies to Browne's song "I'm Alive," then switched over to piano for the slow, intense "Looking East," the title track to a 1996 Browne album.
The star of Wednesday night's show sang beautifully. His famously mellow voice has aged gracefully. It displays a bit more texture, a bit more depth, but it's not radically different from the one fans fell in love with back in the 1970s.
Wednesday night's show included the exquisitely lonely "These Days," the risque "Naked Ride Home" and the oh-so-appropriate-for-the-times "I Am a Patriot," a song penned by Steven Van Zandt. "The Late Show," from his 1974 album "Late for the Sky" was an early-set highlight.
He also took a number of requests from the crowd. At one point, someone yelled, "Shape of a Heart!" Without hesitating, Browne said, "Alright," then went to fetch the right guitar to play the song.
For most of the show, he kept the patter to a minimum. "I got to listen back to some of my shows," he told the crowd. "I'd think I was talking too much, spending too much time introducing the songs. But if I don't talk, I feel a little bit shy. And I'm not shy."
Not shy, no. But full of enough warmth and wisdom to share his stage with other artists eager to give listeners more than just entertainment and a walk down memory lane.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times