Thursday, August 4, 2016

Lucinda Williams at Damrosch Park

Lucinda Williams was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, the daughter of a poet and literature professor father and an amateur pianist mother. They divorced in the mid-1960s, and the dad took the children with him as he traveled as a visiting professor in Mexico and the United States. Lucinda began playing guitar at age 12, and her first live performance was in Mexico City at age 17. By her early 20s, Williams was performing a folk-rock-country blend in Austin and Houston, Texas. She moved to Jackson, Mississippi, then Los Angeles, California, before finally settling in Nashville, Tennessee. Williams received Grammy Awards for Best Country Song in 1994, Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1999, and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance in 2001. Her 12th studio album, The Ghosts of Highway 20, was released on February 5, 2016.

Lucinda Williams tonight headlined a free concert sponsored by National Public Radio (NPR) as part of the Lincoln Center's annual summer Out-of-Doors series. Ann Powers, an NPR host, introduced Williams and conducted a brief interview before walking off and leaving Williams to launch into a 40-minute set. Williams sang and played acoustic guitars accompanied solely by Stuart Mathis on electric guitars. Stripped down like this, the songs and voice were even more potent than usual, from the opening "When I Look at the World" to a cheer-inducing closer, "Foolishness" ("I don't need no foolishness in my life …/I don't need no racism in my life …/I don't need no sexism in my life …/I don't need Donald Trump in my life …/"). At age 63, Williams' defiant spirit shone brightly, whether it challenged country music traditions or political disorder. Williams is a songwriter with a lot to say, but the curfew of the venue did not allow her ample time to express herself aptly.

Visit Lucinda Williams at www.lucindawilliams.com.