Friday, February 26, 2016

Beth Hart at the Town Hall

Beth Hart won the Female Vocalist competition on Ed McMahon's Star Search for the 1993 season, but that alone did not solidify a music career for the singer/songwriter/guitarist from Los Angeles, California. She claimed her first top 5 Adult Contemporary hit in 1999 with "LA Song (Out of This Town)." At the same time, Hart was singing the lead role in Love, Janis, an off-Broadway musical based on Janis Joplin's letters home to her mother. Hart later collaborated with Slash, Joe Bonamassa and Jeff Beck, but Americans took notice when President Barak Obama and his wife Michelle gave Hart a standing ovation when she sang Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind" at a 2012 tribute to Buddy Guy at the Kennedy Center Opera House. Hart's eighth and most recent album, Better Than Home, was released on April 14, 2015, but she and Jeff Beck released the collaborative single "Tell Her You Belong To Me" on January 7, 2016.

Beth Hart's concert at the Town Hall tonight was intimate, and she confessed nervousness early in the two-hour, 18-song set. Drawing from a 20-year catalogue, Hart opened with the Lloyd Glenn/Lowell Fulson-penned "Sinners Prayer," one of her collaborative works with Joe Bonamassa. Depending on the songs, she shifted between singer-songwriter songs, the blues, and, in the case of songs like Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits," down and dirty rock and roll. Guitarists Jon Nichols and P.J. Barth, bassist Bob Marinelli, and drummer Bill Ransom supported her energy and offered some of their own. Hart played guitar and piano, and spoke often between songs, offering back stories to her songs and candidly alluding to her past struggles with drugs, alcohol and bi-polar disorder. Hart introduced a touching rendition of "St. Teresa" by explaining how the film Dead Man Walking inspired the lyrics. The sensitive "Take It Easy On Me" put her healing on full display. Hart's alto came equipped with the vulnerability to make it all credible. Hart has received accolades for her blues singing, but this concert showed there is more to the package.

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