Stripped-down to bare. And unafraid. In the cavern of the Rialto Theatre there was no place to hide.
The gospel infused voice that emanated from one so diminutive, at once beautiful and pained, unleashed an enormous power that reached deep into the beating hearts of all in attendance, while exposing a true artist’s tender soul. One who has found strength Living With Ghosts.
Through intimate moments, balladry and character-based storytelling, like a true Servant of Love Patty Griffin dug deep into folk and roots traditions, finding her footing in the vernacular of the everyday.
Her crew, spartan: Guitarist/pianist David Pulkingham and drummer/bassist/pianist Conrad Choucroun. As one they presented Patty Griffin (PGM Recordings, 2019), an album of quiet grace, self-determination and survival, whose emotional epicenter is found in Griffin’s battle with, and victory over, breast cancer.
During the course of the evening, Griffin traced back to her roots in “Where I Come From,” lamented the sands of time slipping through the “Hourglass,” and questioned the uncertainty of the future in “What Now.”
The Grammy Award winner seemed happy to be back in Tucson. Griffin took a moment to speak of the situation on the border. “It’s not a simple solution.” And of her grandparents who emigrated from Ireland. “But, if the gates to them had been shut…I might not be here. And I like being here. So, I’m still standing on a hill.”
But, this “Mama’s Worried.”
Like a well written novel, Griffin’s masterfully crafted songs bloom, they develop independent lives, and perdure in your head long after the coda.
Towards the end of the set Griffin sang “River.” Embodying a woman’s strength, her words captured the essence of the evening. “Isn’t she a river? She doesn’t need a diamond to shine. You can’t really have her. But you can hold her for a time.”
And so it was.
English folk singer/guitarist John Smith opened the show Friday past, June 7.