Jackson Browne, master songwriter, storyteller and activist played Van Wezel Performing Arts Center for the first time to a sold-out crowd and the Sarasota Police were in attendance in the show’s pit. Browne was on the last two shows of his solo tour when there was a threat made against his show on Tuesday night in Orlando. Security in both Orlando and SRQ were beefed up. The musician started the show off by thanking the Sarasota Police for keeping things safe.
A piano and slew of guitars don the stage and you know you are gonna get a night of pure music. Appearing at 7:40, Browne and his guest Greg Leisz start things off with “Before the Deluge” and “For Everyman”. Leisz on lap steel guitar, mandolin and guitar accompanies Browne with a quiet perfection. A Lifetime Achievement Award as an instrumentalist, Greg has worked session gigs with just about everyone and has most recently toured with both Eric Clapton and Jackson.
“These Days” written when Browne was 16, still holds the test of time and was a hit for the late Gregg Allman who knew Jackson since they met in L.A. in the late 60’s. A story of life with its final line “Don’t confront me with my failures, I have not forgotten them” resonates for the mostly boomer crowd in attendance. The great Glen Campbell also recorded it in 2008.
Besides Allman, Jackson has another connection to Sarasota in Jimmie Fadden, original Nitty Gritty Dirt Band member. Brown joined the NGDB in 1966 but left after a short time to head to NYC. He brings Fadden on stage to play harmonica. He also brought a bass player Mai Agan from Estonia who had just toured with his old friend, David Crosby. The audience calling out song suggestions that were mostly on the setlist like hits “Rock Me on the Water” and “The Pretender”. Understand that this a listening party more than a dance party with tunes like the beautiful classic “Late for the Sky” and an homage to his friend late singer Valerie Carter who lived in Clearwater with “Love Needs A Heart” from the “Running on Empty” album.
Always the activist, “I am a Patriot” was perfect at this time in our country with its lyric of “I am a Patriot and I love my country” that has nothing to do with political parties but humanity. Written by Steve Van Zandt of the “E Street Band”. Jackson was inducted by Bruce Springsteen in 2004 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and last year Jackson inducted Joan Baez, one of his heroes.
The encore brought “Running on Empty” and the audience on its feet. The last song of the evening ended on a high note with the Glenn Frey/Jackson Browne written Eagles hit “Take It Easy”. Browne played nearly 3 hours. One of the greatest musicians of our time, Jackson Browne is still committed to his causes and his music. Lucky for us…
Photos by Vicky Sullivan / Rock the Lens Photography