Two in the round

Published 9:50 pm Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lovett, Gill bring unusual show to area

By Frank Roberts

Lyle Lovett and Vince Gill will be together on stage at the Chrysler Hall Thursday in one of only four appearances they’re doing together for this special two-man show.

They will sit, sing, converse — and that’s it. That may not sound like the most exciting concert ever, but once the duo gets started, the music and fun set in.

Email newsletter signup

“I enjoy shows that are not planned out,” Lovett said in a phone interview. “This will be two songwriters in the round.” They will take turns, then join forces. “And it will be a question and answer thing — interviewing the artists. The audience will ask questions. It’s informal, so there will be lots of ad-libbing. It will be like little snapshots of our experiences.”

Snapshot 1: “I’ve never written a song with the idea that it will be a hit. Each one means something to me, and it will probably mean something to you.”

Lovett emphasizes listening to the lyrics. His own songs cover territory that’s funny, meaningful, unusual, thoughtful and removed from the musical norm.

“It’s the first time Vince and I have worked together, and it is exciting,” Lovett said.

Of course, his life is already musically exciting. “There’s not a day in the year that I’m not into music. I started for fun when I was a teenager and began playing in clubs.”

One of his greatest joys is getting into the studio, creating and recording, and that’s the way it’s been for 40 years.

He also enjoys his horses. “I’ve been involved with them all my life, and I’m always interested in special events.”

He still lives in his hometown, which, he says, somewhat ruefully, “is turning into a Houston suburb.” He was born in 1975 and raised on his father’s horse ranch in Klein, Texas. The town was named for the singer’s grandfather.

The ultra-affable entertainer has also made several Robert Altman films, a prestigious collaboration. They include “Cookie’s Fortune,” “The Player,” and “Short Cuts,” and he has done a fair number of television dramas.

But he says he will never leave music. He will continue to experiment in jazz, folk and pop, while keeping in the confines of country. Just about every song he offers is an original from the fertile and sometimes strange Lovett mind.

That sharp mind got him through Texas A&M University, graduating with degrees in journalism and in German. Later, he performed in Germany, and studied in Rothenburg, where he met a German country singer, Buffalo Wayne, performing with him in Luxembourg.

Mainstream recognition has eluded him — he is cut from a different cloth — but he has won several Grammy awards.

Esquire Magazine summed up his success succinctly: “… three C’s: class, charisma, and consistency.”

Lovett’s partner Thursday is Vince Gill, who has recorded more than 20 studio albums and claims more than 40 hit singles. He has won 20 Grammys, more than any other male country music artist.

Gill’s drummer for 20 years is Martin Parker of Edenton, N.C., a good friend of mine for many years. Martin also performed with Ricky Skaggs for 10 years, and will be the subject of a later column.