Emmylou Harris – Austin City Limits @ The Moody Theater, TX

The veritable Queen of Americana Music, Emmylou Harris and her fine band of Red Dirt Boys (Rickie Simpkins, Will Kimbrough, Phil Madeira, Chris Donahue and Bryan Owings) graced the stage at The Moody Theater packing their nearly two-hour set with 26 select tunes spanning Emmylou’s four-decade career.

Giving nods to some of the great songwriters (Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Billy Joe Shaver, Ron Sexsmith, Gillian Welch) with some wonderfully selected covers, a decent portion of the show was devoted to showcasing her own songs from the more recent records.

The songs from Hard Bargain (her newest record which she showcased at Antone’s during SXSW) were socially-consious (“My Name Is Emmett Till,” “Home Sweet Home”), rockers (“Six White Cadillacs”) and loving remembrances of Kate McGarrigle (“Darling Kate”) and Gram Parsons (“The Road”). “I’ve always had a special connection to Austin,” she said. “I got on a tour bus with Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels… our first gig was in Boulder, Colo. and we promptly got fired because we failed to work up a beginning, middle and an end to a song… We went to our next gig at the Armadillo World Headquarters and we appointed the drummer to be the band leader, had a rehearsal and and the end of the set we got such a reception that we had to start the set over because we didn’t know any other songs!”

Before “The Ship on His Arm,” she mentioned Texan artist Terry Allen’s painting that inspired the song, along with the tale of her parents’ first meeting. “They were both engaged to other people, saw each other on the street, feel in love, eloped and knew nothing about the other and it worked,” she said. “He was a Yankee, she was from Birmingham.”

Outside of acknowledging songwriters and a few stories, she kept the on-stage banter to a minimum with the exception of a few quips: “I’m from a generation where girls didn’t pump their own gas or tune their own guitars,” she laughed while trying to quickly change tunings and “That’s one I do know, however I’m still in charge here,” responding to various requests shouted from the crowd.

“You’ve been a terrific audience,” she said as the evening drew to a close with Townes Van Zandt (“Pancho and Lefty”) and Billy Joe Shaver (“Old Five and Dimers Like Me”) covers. “And I wouldn’t expect anything else, this is Austin.”

Set List
Six White Cadillacs
Orphan Girl
Red Dirt Girl
If I Needed You
Hello Stranger
One of These Days
Michelangelo
My Name Is Emmett Till
Home Sweet Home
The Road
Making Believe
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
Luxury Liner
Darling Kate
Hard Bargain
Every Grain of Sand
Going Back to Harlan
Bright Morning Stars
The Ship on His Arm
Shores of the White Sands
The Pearl
Together Again
Born to Run
—-
Pancho and Lefty
Old Five and Dimers Like Me

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Photos by Nichole Wagner

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