Thursday, October 14

NOLA.COM — James Taylor to donate portion of New Orleans concert proceeds to Second Harvest Food Bank

By Keith Spera

James Taylor and Jackson Browne plan to donate a portion of the proceeds from their New Orleans concert this weekend to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana.

Second Harvest, which helps feed south Louisiana residents in need year-round, has been heavily involved in distributing food and other supplies to those affected by Hurricane Ida.

“This is such a generous gift of love, and means even more with music being such an integral part of the soul of South Louisiana,” Second Harvest President and CEO Natalie Jayroe said in a statement. “We are honored that these two world-renowned artists and their fans are transforming the joy of a live performance into something even larger for our community.”

After a six week break, Taylor and Browne, his “special guest,” open the second leg of their 2021 tour Saturday at the Smoothie King Center.

The show was initially scheduled for May 15, 2020. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, it was postponed first to May 14, 2021, then again to this Saturday.

The Smoothie King Center will be set up in a reduced-capacity configuration. Tickets are still available via Ticketmaster and start at $59 plus service charges.


Thursday, October 14

ROLLINGSTONE.COM — James Taylor, Jackson Browne Will Donate to Hurricane Ida Relief at Upcoming New Orleans Show

By Angie Martoccio

As James Taylor and Jackson Browne gear up for the second leg of their joint tour, the duo announced their upcoming show in New Orleans will benefit Hurricane Ida relief.

Proceeds from the October 16th performance at the Smoothie King Center will go directly to Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans & Acadiana, which delivers food, water, and supplies to areas affected by the devastating storm last summer.

“This is such a generous gift of love, and means even more with music being such an integral part of the soul of South Louisiana,” Second Harvest’s President and CEO Natalie Jayroe said in a statement. “We are honored that these two world-renowned artists and their fans are transforming the joy of a live performance into something even larger for our community.”

Taylor and Browne will hit select cities this month, including Houston on October 17th and San Francisco on October 29th. The tour wraps in San Diego on November 1st.

Joni Mitchell recently released a live duet of “You Can Close Your Eyes” with Taylor from 1970, off her upcoming Archives Vol. 2 The Reprise Years (1968-1971). Browne celebrated his 73rd birthday earlier this month.


Tuesday, September 21

DAILYGAZETTE.COM — Review: A joyful welcome for James Taylor, Jackson Browne at SPAC

By Michael Hochanadel

Like a neon-and-chrome jukebox in a 1970s fern bar, Jackson Browne then James Taylor expertly spun radio-friendly soft rock at Saratoga Performing Arts Center Tuesday to the troubadours’ happy contemporaries.

The joyful welcome for those songs felt like nostalgia for simpler times — aren’t ALL times simpler? — and showed that good songs stay good.

So does the feeling on both sides of the stage when big throngs flock to see big stars, especially in these not-so-simple times. Before the biggest crowd I’ve seen and joined since before the plague, both Browne and Taylor relished the roar.

Browne gratefully said anticipating the tour with Taylor “helped me get through the last year and a half.” After the vintage kick-down-the-door opener “You Love the Thunder,” Browne introduced “The Long Way Round,” a hopeful new hymn for these times, but spiced with outrage. Browne mixed old and new tunes (from his fresh “Downhill from Everywhere”) more bravely than Taylor, who resolutely looked back. Taylor’s recent albums celebrate the Great American Songbook and he grabbed his least familiar song Tuesday from a vintage Warner Brothers Loony Tune cartoon.

Both Browne and Taylor write well for their distinctive but not very big or rangy voices. Taylor’s rings dry as a New England winter when snow has swept all the moisture from the sky; Browne’s morose croon undresses naked emotion. Like their fans, the stars’ voices were all still there.

Browne sounded affectingly pained Tuesday in the laments “Fountain of Sorrow” and “Late for the Sky,” righteous in “Downhill from Everywhere” and “When Justice is Real.” Smart pacing shaped the mood, and he clearly loved when his band crackled with tight, focused energy in up- or mid-tempo tunes. “Doctor My Eyes” earned crowd claps on the beat, more or less. Guitarist and lap-slide player Greg Leisz got the solos, sometimes echoing David Lindley who recorded the songs originally with Browne, other times re-inventing things. Guitarist Val McCallum’s subdued rhythm fills stacked riffs alongside Jeff Young’s keyboards. Longtime bassist Bob Glaub and supple drummer Mauricio Lewak punched the rockers with gleeful power and shaded the quieter tunes in laid-back fashion. Singers Alethea Mills and Chavonne Stewart framed Brown’s leads without overshadowing him.

Taylor joined Browne and his band for the mid-tempo rockers “The Pretender” and “Running on Empty” — a warm, mutual admiration feel.

Taylor toted an even bigger band than Browne’s but began his set with video cameos of fans singing his songs before Andrea Zonn’s fiddle (she also sang, later) introduced “Country Roads” with Celtic passages as four singers and seven players eased into the quiet, pastoral groove. “I missed you something fierce,” Taylor said. “I missed you desperately!” Like Browne a longtime SPAC fave, he happily harvested the crowd’s affection.

Offering “Never Die Young” as “good advice,” Taylor sat for the first time but mostly stood, (as Browne did) finger-picking acoustic guitars mostly, though an electric whose paint job he praised activated a later tune. He dedicated “That’s Why I’m Here” to those in recovery and the memory of John Belushi, whose overdose death, Taylor said, “scared me sober” — but also promised plenty of songs for those under the influence.

Early on, Taylor said “Copperline” about his North Carolina childhood home was a “landscape painting of a song;” later “Carolina In My Mind” got similar colors, as did “Fire and Rain,” set in Massachusetts.

Like Browne, Taylor knows how to build a set. “Oh, Mexico” was first to hit his patented easy-rocking lope. Percussionist Michito Sanchez, trumpeter Walt Fowler and saxophonist “Blue Lou” Marini soloed hot and pumped the coda. Doffing his jacket before this, Taylor thanked the crowd “for making an old man feel good;” but he was spry, and wry, all night.

Newish tunes “You Make it Easy” and “Line ‘em Up” sprang from witty spoken intros, but the electric “Steamroller Blues” didn’t need a lead in. Here Taylor grabbed his (nicely painted) Telecaster and pushed this boisterous rocker over the top. It popped and pulsed, Taylor singing in mock snarls, fanning guitarist Mike Laundau’s bristling solo with his flat-cap, grinning as Fowler went all Miles with a muted-trumpet solo.

Next, “As Easy as Falling Off a Log” relaxed into antique swing before “Sweet Baby James,” “Fire and Rain,” “Carolina on My Mind” and “Shower the People” shifted the balance from playing to singing as Zonn, Arnold McCuller, Kate Markowitz, Dorian Holley and Henry Taylor — yes, son of — united their voices to breathtaking effect. In the sweet “Shower,” video of fans singing along recalled the opening.

Encores honored unity and kinship, Browne returning the favor of Taylor guesting in his set by returning to the stage for “Take It Easy,” the Eagles hit Browne wrote before he started recording his own songs. “You’ve Got a Friend” celebrated Taylor’s sometime singing partner Carole King, who wrote it, while “Close Your Eyes” featured son Henry.

Drummer Steve Gadd was the first player Taylor had introduced, a jazz giant happily muscling up soft-rock tunes; while subtle, supple bassist and bandleader Jimmy Johnson was last but far from least. Selling lots of records for a long time earns hefty budgets to bring top talent on the road. Both Taylor and Browne do; richly benefitting both audience and songs Tuesday.

FYI, few in the big, happy crowd wore masks, but everyone in the crews did.


Monday, August 30

ALBANYHERALD.COM — Jackson Browne, James Taylor concert one for the ages

By Carlton Fletcher

DULUTH — Be forewarned: While the following is intended as a review of the Aug. 17 James Taylor/Jackson Browne concert at the Gas South Arena here, it is going to come off more as a fawning love letter to two of rock and roll’s greatest singer/songwriters.

Because, in truth, that’s what it is.

How else can you write about an event that was so transformative, an event that brought tears to these eyes, an event that brought such joy to this old heart of mine, an event that made me so glad to be alive?

Maybe it was partially a reaction to the year-plus of COVID-induced semi-isolation. Maybe it was the opportunity to finally see Browne perform live, one of my musical bucket list items (I’d seen J.T. perform before). Or maybe it was just the outpouring of hope and exhilaration of seeing these great veteran artists prove how viable they still are and how well their songs have stood the test of time.

I’m sure it was a little of all of that … and so much more.

Jackson Browne is, I believe, one of the best five or six songwriters ever. You could take “The Pretender,” “Sky Blue and Black” and “These Days,” and that would be enough to qualify him. But as Browne’s fans know, those are just the tip of the ice burg when it comes to his deep, poignant catalog.

(A confession: When the concert started, and I heard that familiar, wonderful voice sing “I’m Alive” — a song to which I absolutely relate — tears flowed uncontrollably down my cheeks. In those first couple of minutes, the concert was well worth the price of admission.)

I’ve learned to never complain when an artist with such a rich catalog does not play a favorite song. (I honestly thought Eric Clapton fans were going to revolt at the same venue a few years back when the veteran guitarist did not — gasp! — play his all-time classic “Layla” … as if that was his only defining moment. Damned yuppies.) I had in my mind any number of songs from master singer/songwriter Browne’s decades of classics, but I was just so overjoyed to hear the songs he wanted to sing on this night.

I marveled again how poignantly Browne perceives the world around him — in “The Long Way Around,” he sang of “… letting go two or three disasters ago” — insight those of us who listen can only experience through his songs. My faith in my beliefs was renewed as he sang “Until Justice Is Real.”

The first big surprise of the night — and I don’t know why it was such a surprise, perhaps it was just that I was so caught up in the moment — was when Browne said, “Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. James Taylor.” I literally broke out in gooseflesh as the familiar icon ambled onstage. That Taylor sang with Browne on two of the latter artist’s all-time classic songs — “The Pretender” and “Running on Empty” — was a memory to cherish for the ages.

(It was such a cool moment when Browne said, “James, you gonna stick around with us?” seconds before the the familiar piano/guitar intro to “Running on Empty” brought the 13,000 or so at the Gas South Arena to their feet.)

Of the literally hundreds of concerts I’ve seen in my lifetime, when Browne left the stage and the houselights came up, signifying no encore, I’ve never been so disappointed to see a show end. But the thrill of the performance — musically, vocally and visually — would not allow me to focus on any downside.

As the roadies (and wouldn’t it have been great to hear Browne do “The Load Out/Stay?” … OK, no griping) set up what would be an elaborate and awe-inspiring stage set for Taylor’s performance, I listened to some music critics behind me talk about how James Taylor’s voice “sounded weak” while singing backing vocals on “The Pretender” and “Running on Empty.” I almost turned around and said, “Dudes, he was only singing backing vocals; he was not trying to usurp anything from the guy singing the songs.” But I kept quiet, thinking to myself, “Just wait and see.”

It didn’t take long for that to happen. After an emotional video montage of just regular folks singing Taylor’s songs, the man called “Sweet Baby” immediately won the crowd over with a stirring rendition of the “Sweet Baby James” classic “Country Road.” And the musical high points just kept coming.

Taylor told of how he came to write the second verse of “That’s Why I’m Here” after learning of the death of his friend, comedian John Belushi.

“I was dealing with my own issues, and that literally scared me sober,” the singer said. “I’m sure there are a lot of you here who have your own issues, so this song is for those of you dealing with recovery.” The crowd cheered wildly, and Taylor added, “We’ve got a lot of songs for you who are f–ed up, too.”

As marvelous as the music was, another awe-inspiring element of the evening was the stage, which was decorated with a tree that helped highlight the digital splendor that accompanied choice tunes. One shining example was “Mexico.” As Taylor and his All-Star Band (which was) hit the chorus, the backdrop exploded with an array of bright colors that brought a festive atmosphere to the arena.

Taylor didn’t hold back during his 18-song performance, mixing familiar tunes from throughout his career with rarities like “Easy as Rollin’ Off a Log,” which was from his COVID-era “American Standards” album and, Taylor noted, inspired by an old “Merry Melodies” cartoon, which played on a “TV set” digital display and provided a lighter moment to the evening.

Of course, most fans want the hits when they watch a prolific artist like Taylor, and he didn’t disappoint: “Copperline,” “Steamroller Blues,” “Sweet Baby James,” “Fire and Rain,” “Carolina in My Mind,” “Shower the People,” “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You).”

Then came a stirring four-song encore that was itself a marvel. It started with the moving, lovely “Shed a Little Light” that featured Taylor’s backup singers (including his son, Henry). Then Taylor called Browne to the stage, and they duetted on “Take It Easy,” a song Browne co-wrote that became The Eagles’ breakthrough hit. Browne stayed for a moving rendition of Taylor’s Carole King-penned classic “You’ve Got a Friend,” and then everyone but Taylor and his son left the stage.

Backing themselves with acoustic guitars, the Taylor’s wowed the crowd one last time and ended the night on an emotional high with their take on Taylor’s lovely “You Can Close Your Eyes.”

It’s the music fan-boy in me that leads me to declare that this show vaulted into my all-time Top 5 concerts list, a declaration that has not worn off in the few days since returning to southwest Georgia and reality. But it’s the human being in me that left me with a final, decisive thought as I walked to the car after the show: “If I die now, I die happy.”


Monday, August 23

POLLSTAR.COM – Sweet Baby James & The Pretender Still Running On

By: Holly Gleason

By the time James Taylor emerged to sing “The Pretender” with Jackson Browne, offering the line “Out into the cool of the evening strolls the Pretender / He knows that all of his hopes and dreams begin and end there…,” it became apparent the singer/songwriters’ stop at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena was going to be much more than a hit fest of soft rock favorites from the ‘70s and ‘80s. More than nostalgia, these songs not only endure but expanded to include the life-worn truths of coming of age in the 21st century by two American treasures.

There was no preaching, no stridency, no toxic shock of 24-hour news cycles, yet the humanity and clarity on display firmly reminded the crowd of their decency, generosity and kindness. Browne, from SoCal, did an exceptional job merging new songs that connected the dots on plastics clogging and killing the ocean (“Downhill from Everywhere”) with shimmering takes on classics (“Fountain of Sorrow,” “Late for the Sky”) before winding up with a surging “Running On Empty” that’s lost none of its bite. Indeed, the urgency of “Empty” serves a clarion call for generations facing global, ecological, personal and health crisis at every turn.
Browne, 72, always the bruised romantic, still represents a raging against the dying of the day. At a time of overwhelm, “Doctor My Eyes” feels desperately current, while “My Cleveland Heart” buoys hope in a time of overload.

With a heroic band, Browne brought both dynamics and a wide-open spirit. It was a reminder that laid back can rock with a genuine sense of thrust as well as musicianship from players including Bob Glaub and Greg Leisz.

James Taylor, now 73, from North Carolina, Boston and Martha’s Vineyard, is in many ways the more cozy. While a bit more mellow, he spent his time onstage expanding and reconfiguring many of his best loved songs. “Carolina In My Mind” turned on five-part harmonies and Taylor’s acoustic guitar, while “Mexico” percolated under Latin rhythms, a thicker layer of instruments punctuated with horn blasts that all gave way to an incredible vocal freestyle/percussion fest. Later, “Shower The People” would also have a vocal vamping session with the crowd singing and clapping along; Arno McCuller stood out with an incredible set of vocal runs that prompted cheers from the already invested audience.

Charming, a bit awkward and hilarious, Taylor is the uncle everyone loves the most. Talking about the pedal taverns and “wooo!” girls, he impaled Nashville’s drunk Bridezilla nation. When he introduced “That’s Why I’m Here” for “my friends in recovery,” he quickly added, “And don’t worry: we’ve got plenty if you’re fucked up, too.”

That buttery suede voice lands as a comfort and reassurance. Playing “You Can Close Your Eyes” with just his son Henry at the foot of the stage, the tenderness and family ties created a reminder of how small, simple truths shape the best of what life can be.

With “Take It Easy” driving the encore – and co-writer Browne onstage – the night took on the vibe of a frat party band having its own kind of fun. This was the hedonism of the time period both emerged from, and it reminded those in their 40s, 50s and 60s who they were back then, but it also offered the large number of people in their 20s and 30s a sense of why this music engaged so viscerally back when.

“You’ve Got A Friend,” with Taylor’s five singers and Browne, was the benediction the night deserved. With a smile and a twinkle in his blue eyes, the pledge of being there for each other, was perhaps the message most necessary. In a hard, callous world, the idea of being there with one another was exactly what the people needed to hear.


Thursday, August 12

ROANOKE.COM — Third try at a concert in Roanoke is the charm for James Taylor, Jackson Browne

By Tad Dickens

Only superfans and trivia experts would know that John Belushi’s death saved James Taylor’s life.

Taylor, a folk rock hero who has for nearly 40 years outlasted “Saturday Night Live” and “Animal House” star Belushi, told a sold-out audience of 7,366 at Berglund Coliseum on Wednesday that the comedian’s drug overdose death was a “wake-up call” for him. He used that important life info to introduce one of his songs, “That’s Why I’m Here.”

The Belushi-centric second verse, which he told the audience was the first he wrote for the tune, was part of a song about fate and friendship and his relationship to “perfect strangers” who call him “by name” and “pay good money to hear ‘Fire and Rain’ again and again and again.”

In a way, it explained why the 73-year-old singer and songwriter stood on stage, long after he could have hung it up and relaxed in the country somewhere. The best part: He seemed to still be loving it. With his All Star Band, including backup-singer-slash-son-slash-“the-apple”-of-father’s-eye, Henry Taylor, JT brought about 105 minutes of hits and a couple of energetic deep cuts, and shared stage time with his opening act, Jackson Browne.

Who else is Jackson Browne, a certified mellow gold headliner, going to open shows for? We’ll get to him in a few.

But first, that all-star band. Not many performers introduce their sideman drummer after the first song, but not many performers can afford to have Steve Gadd on the throne. Gadd, who played the drum beat on Paul Simon’s “Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover” and tracked the groove and timeless drum break on Steely Dan’s “Aja,” was in full effect from his boss’s opening song, “Country Road,” bringing tom-tom thunder, dynamic variety and perfect groovemanship to the proceedings.

“He’s a bit of a legend,” Taylor told the crowd of Gadd.

Taylor also called longtime violinist and harmony singer Andrea Zonn after that number, though her fiddle cut out a couple of times in the intro. Another stage glitch occurred later on, when the house lights came on unexpectedly as Taylor addressed the crowd. “Has anyone considered that this place might be haunted?” he asked, to laughter.

Most of the set, though, went off as expected, with Taylor and band rolling through such cuts as “Copperline” — he teased that it was about the state just south of Virginia, but was not “Carolina In My Mind.” That old smash would come later.

Other lesser-known but well-received numbers included “Line ‘Em Up,” with its sympathetic opening verse about President Richard Nixon’s resignation, and “As Easy As Rolling Off A Log,” which he said was inspired by the old Merrie Melodies cartoons, then proved with the animation on large screens.

Clarinet on that one came courtesy of “Blue” Lou Marina, the reed man extraordinaire who was part of Belushi’s and Dan Aykroyd’s “The Blues Brothers” projects, and has been with Taylor since at least his most recent Roanoke appearance, in 2011 at neighboring Berglund Performing Arts Theatre.

The highlight for this old blues and jazz freak came with “Chili Dog,” an obscure number that featured organist Larry Goldings and guitarist Michael Landau in a song about addiction to the specialty at Los Angeles landmark Pink’s Hot Dogs, near where Taylor has recorded. Gadd and rhythm section mate Jimmy Johnson burned on that one, too. Seriously, a writer could focus reviews on each of those two musicians, and run out of print space.

The hits included the aforementioned “Fire and Rain,” which received one of three standing ovations the audience gave Taylor and crew. “Sweet Baby James” — with a pop-up cowboy book set-piece video on the big screen — “Fire and Rain,” the actual “Carolina in My Mind,” “Shower the People” and the classic cover of “How Sweet it Is (To Be Loved By You)” rounded out the set.

Encore number “Shed A Little Light,” with Taylor and five harmony singers delivering vocals, was an emotional highlight. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired the song, and Taylor’s lyrics were a reminder that in such strange times, it’s probably wise to actually study what MLK was about, instead of just regurgitating out-of-context and oversimplified talking points.

Browne joined his old friend Taylor for “Take It Easy,” the Eagles hit that Browne wrote with the late Glenn Frey. The headliner closed with one of his classics, a cover of Carol King’s “You’ve Got A Friend.” And, you know, that’s what he’s here for: to make folks feel warm through music.

Browne was returning the favor that Taylor paid during the nearly hour-long opening set. JT, with his ever-present acoustic guitar, took plenty of lines on “The Pretender.” Fortunately, he warmed up his voice later, for his own set. It’s certain that most of the crowd didn’t notice.

JB never had to be a “happy idiot,” as he was writing important songs about the same time he was eligible for a drivers license. And he’s still doing it, with several songs from his new album, “Downhill From Everywhere,” in his show. It’s fair to say the most rocking among them were the title cut and “My Cleveland Heart,” which he told the crowd was about receiving an artificial heart.

Browne didn’t really get one of those, but he did get COVID-19. His Roanoke show with Taylor was postponed twice during the pandemic, but the two were grateful to be here, they told the crowd.

“Thanks for hanging onto your tickets,” Browne said.

With the new songs and such classic rock staples as “Doctor My Eyes,” “Late for the Sky” and “Running On Empty,” Browne was so much more than your typical opener. His vocals are still strong, his harmonizers still more than able, his band spot-on for the occasion.

In fact, this show could have used another act. It started on time at 7:30 midweek, as many were still rolling in on shuttles and/or being turned away for having bags larger than allowed under new rules at the venue. It’s a shame to think that folks missed a second of either performance.


Friday, August 6

THEOAKLANDPRESS.COM — James Taylor, Jackson Browne rekindle vintage summer spirit to DTE


Both singer-songwriters are both veterans of the venue. Taylor, in fact, was playing his 35th concert there since its 1972 opening, as the two brought their pandemic-delayed tour there on Sunday, Aug. 1. Each claimed they couldn’t recall their first appearance but guessed that certain songs — Taylor’s “Carolina on My Mind,” Browne’s “Doctor My Eyes” — had been played back then, as they were on Sunday.

And neither demonstrated any interest in the DTE moniker the amphitheater has held for 20 years now.

“It’s so great to be back here at, what do they call it? Pine Knob,” Taylor declared early in his set. “I know XYZ paid a lot of money to get their name on the place. I just remember it as what it was.”

Taylor and Browne certainly made Sunday’s one-two punch feel like a vintage night at the venue, no matter what you call it. Troubadours whose catalogs stretch back 50 years and straddle the line between Top 40 and Classic Rock, each came armed with potent repertoires and equally impressive bands, and with a gentle affect that fit perfectly into a sunny and slightly chilly summer evening.

They played nicely together, too, as Taylor traded lines with Browne for the latter’s “The Pretender” before Browne returned the favor during Taylor’s set for an encore rendition of the Eagles’ “Take It Easy,” which Browne co-wrote. There was no mention of the Eagles’ late Glenn Frey in his home town, but Browne did usher Taylor’s wife, Kim, on stage to sing backing vocals as Taylor quipped, “I knew this would happen, but I didn’t expect so soon… .”

Browne and his eight-member band, meanwhile, delivered a dizzying hour that deftly sampled his new album “Downhill From Everywhere” with the title track and “My Cleveland Heart” while hitting expected high points such as “Somebody’s Baby,” “Doctor My Eyes” and “Late for the Sky.” “Running on Empty” rocked things to a close with guitarist Val McCallum and multi-instrumentalist Greg Leisz re-creating the favorite’s ringing solos.

Taylor and company, an all-star outfit of its own, were characteristically sublime during their hour and 50 minutes on stage. Few songs embody the summer shed experience better than the opening “Country Road,” “Sweet Baby James,” “Fire and Rain,” “Carolina on My Mind” or “Shower the People,” and Taylor even has a song — “That’s Why I’m Here” — written specifically about that experience. The 73-year-old icon played them all on Sunday, the 12-piece band — its five backing singers including his 20-year-old son, Henry — nailing every nuance of the 16 songs and creating some fresh dynamics thanks to drummer Steve Gadd and guitarist Michael Landau.

Like Browne, Taylor — sporting a white shirt, gray slacks and a cap — expressed great happiness to be back onstage and appreciation to the nearly sold-out DTE crowd for coming to the rescheduled date. “It’s so great, after waiting a year and a half, two years in some places, to finally come back and be on the road and be together again and play for y’all,” he noted early on. The show gave him a belated chance to play something (“As Easy as Rolling Off a Log”) from his 2020 “American Standard” album, and he populated the set with other favorites such as “Copperline,” “Mexico” and his version of Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You).”

The only flat moment was the bluesy “Chili Dog,” an outlier that came off as a gratuitous attempt to throw some rocking spirit into a show that really didn’t require it.

Taylor signed off with his classic version of Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” a friendly nod to both the crowd and a slate to a venue that means a great deal to his, Browne’s, well-decorated careers.


Friday, August 6

CLEVELAND.COM — An appreciative crowd welcomes James Taylor and Jackson Browne to Blossom Music Center after COVID darkened the stage for more than a year

By Brenda Cain,

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — Jackson Browne and James Taylor played to a throng of enthusiastic and appreciative fans Saturday night at Blossom Music Center and were not shy about returning the love to their fans.

Both performers repeatedly thanked the crowd — which had braved miles-long traffic jams and long security lines — for persevering.

“This is extra-special that so many of you would come out just for us,” Taylor told the crowd after his first number, ‘That’s Why I Am Here.’ “I have so many memories wrapped up in this place, it is amazing to be back after thinking for so long we may not make it.”

Blossom was the second stop for the pair on the tour.

Taylor holds the record for most appearances at Blossom, according to Barry Gabel, Live Nation’s senior vice president of marketing and sponsorship sales. The singer-songwriter has surpassed any other Blossom headliner performing there 25 times in the past five decades. Browne has been a regular at Blossom over the years as well.

The Cleveland Orchestra initiated the summer season when it returned to its summer home for two concerts July 4 weekend, but that ‘dress rehearsal’ may have not been the best indicator for what rock fans would endure for the venue’s first rock show.

Many fans missed most, if not all of Browne’s set, arriving more than an hour after he had taken the stage and saying that police were spot-checking every few vehicles. Once parked, many of those late arrivals were forced to park and walk more than a mile to reach the lawn and pavilion.

For those who arrived before the show, long lines at the gates and ticket office, as well as at food and drink vendors and restrooms, greeted them.

Blossom had anticipated 15,000 – 20,000 fans to attend the show with masks and social distancing “encouraged.”

When Browne took the stage, about 15 minutes after his scheduled start time, the pavilion was about half-full, and the lawn still had plenty of space to spread a blanket. An hour later, the 5,700 pavilion seats were almost full and the lawn was seated shoulder-to-shoulder. Fans were still arriving even after Taylor had appeared on stage.

While masks were few, there were still several concert-goers in the crowd who wore their masks for the entire show.

Both Browne and Taylor are touring to support new music.

Taylor’s “American Standard” was released in March 2020 — “kind of like dropping your new baby into a well,” he said of the guitar renditions of classic songs on the “Standard” album.

Taylor only performed “Easy as Rolling Off a Log;” a song he learned as a child from a Warner Brother’s cartoon, “Katnip Kollege.”

Browne’s set included “My Cleveland Heart,” a song he said came during a drive around Northeast Ohio. It is the first single released from Browne’s latest album “Downhill from Nowhere”. The album was originally set to release in fall 2020, but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was released July 23.

“The person I was driving with said, ‘That’s Cleveland Heart,’” Browne said. “‘That’s where they make artificial hearts.’ I said, ‘Oh, I could use one of those!’”

Even though Browne and Taylor both sang songs they had each performed at their first Blossom appearances — Browne performing “Dr. My Eyes,” and Taylor singing “Fire and Rain” — perhaps the biggest cheer of the night came for Arnold McCuller, one of Taylor’s back-up singers, who is a native Clevelander and performed on stage with his high school choir when it sang with the Cleveland Orchestra at the venue’s opening in 1968.


Friday, August 6

ILLINOISENTERTAINER.COM — Stage Buzz: Live Review and Photo Gallery – James Taylor and His All-Star Band and Jackson Browne • United Center

The third time’s the charm. Originally scheduled for the summer of 2020, the long-anticipated tour by James Taylor and His All-Star Band featuring Jackson Browne’s opening set was bumped to June of this year by the pandemic. Opening night for this summit of songwriter’s songwriters finally arrived on Thursday at Chicago’s United Center. People on both sides of the stage were clearly relieved and in high spirits. “Thanks for hanging onto your tickets,” said Browne with a laugh. “We really didn’t know if anyone would show up,” said Taylor later in the evening.

Browne offered a concise, 60-minute overview of his nearly 50-year solo career. The singer led his nine-piece band on guitar for most of the set but borrowed bandmate Jason Crosby’s seat at the piano for early favorites including “Doctor My Eyes” and “Late for the Sky.” Fans offered fervent response to popular fare including “Somebody’s Baby” from 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack.

Browne debuted a clutch of songs from his new album Downhill from Everywhere, which continue to find his accessible, mid-tempo rock spiked with progressive commentary. The title cut was a song for the ocean, citing its importance to life regardless of anyone’s ideological affiliation. The chugging roots-pop of protest anthem “Until Justice is Real” was grounded by bassist icon Bob Glaub. The song connected to the Laurel Canyon sounds and the roots of ‘70s Los Angeles folk-rock sound that Browne helped to construct. Browne traded vocals with lead guitarist Val McCallum during the vulnerable “My Cleveland Heart” while Greg Leisz underscored Browne’s signature sound on lap steel.

“I don’t open the show for just anybody,” said Browne later in his set. “This is an honor for me and everybody up here. To get to hear his songs every night, I’m in James Taylor camp.” Taylor then walked onstage with guitar in hand to join Browne’s band for a duet of “The Pretender” and its requiem for love and dreams traded in pursuit of money. The only overt opening-night flub occurred when Taylor sang a lyric too early. Browne gently chided, “No, we’re not there.” “Oh,” Taylor replied with a bashful grin before resuming at the right spot while Browne laughed it off. Taylor charmingly buried his face in his well-worn driver’s cap as the crowd cheered for him afterward.

The set concluded with “Running on Empty,” elevated by soulful vocalists Chavonne Stewart and Alethea Mills. Leisz traded euphoric lap steel licks with the towering McCallum, who stood hooked over his guitar like a vulture. Organist Jeff Young quoted the Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Lovin’” mid-song. “’17, I was 69,” sang Browne, changing the familiar lyric about his ongoing life as a restless troubadour. His mop of gray hair and scruffy beard helped to give away his age, but underscored his veteran rock star style.

Taylor’s set began with a video montage that underscored how his enduring music has pulled people together through good times and bad. Many of the clips featured fans playing their versions of songs like “Fire and Rain” and the Carole King-penned “You’ve Got a Friend,” connecting to each other from their homes during lockdown.

Everything about the 17-song set was cozy. The stage was decorated with an old shade tree stretching from one corner into the rigging, its dangling leaves illuminated with multicolored lights. Taylor’s most inviting asset, however, remains a rich and even-tempered voice that is perfectly suited to his deceptively simple and hummable melodies.

After beginning the show with “Country Road” from 1970’s Sweet Baby James, the singer paused to look around the stage at the full house, taking it all in with gratitude. “It’s not the same without you,” he said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

“Carolina in My Mind” from Taylor’s 1968 debut grew from a rich a capella section between the singer and his five-member choir, and blossomed into a blissed-out groove driven by drummer Steve Gadd. “He’s a bit of a legend,” said Taylor when introducing the veteran percussionist. The song’s nostalgia for home was echoed in “Copperline.” “It’s a song about the state I grew up in, as far up as I grew,” Taylor quipped.

Another legend with a special place in the hearts of the Chicago crowd was reeds player “Blue Lou” Marini, famous to many for his role as the taciturn saxophonist in The Blues Brothers film (and band). Marini’s biggest moment arrived with a celebratory saxophone solo during the swinging “How Sweet it Is (To Be Loved By You),” but he was a trusty fixture throughout the set playing gliding solos on songs like the drowsy and unhurried “Make It Easy.”

Taylor had a special introduction for one member of the cast, naming “a new addition to our chorus – my heart’s desire, my own son Henry Taylor.” The sense of extended family among the whole band was apparent by the ease and humor onstage, even when Taylor got cheeky. “I know you don’t care who they are,” wisecracked Taylor after naming and praising the musicians, “but you should see how they get if you don’t introduce ‘em.”

Some songs including the evocative acoustic staple “Fire and Rain” emphasized their essence, with minimal adornment as Taylor sat on a stool with his acoustic guitar under a lone spotlight. The affectionate “Shower the People” was restrained but lush, emphasizing the six singers. Other songs like the festive and joyful “Mexico” drew upon the full dynamic strength of Taylor’s 13-piece All-Star Band.

Taylor teased the audience about removing crowd-pleaser “Steamroller” from the set. “We understand that many of you have had enough of it,” he said to audience catcalls. The band then performed a rowdy medley of “Chili Dog” with an extended coda of “Steamroller.” “We are taking it out of the set, but we can’t do it all at once,” Taylor deadpanned afterward.

American Standard, Taylor’s 2020 album of guitar-based standards, was featured next. He introduced the album’s lone obscurity. “I learned it from where I learned everything in this life, from cartoons,” he said, citing “early television education.” The song “As Easy as Rolling Off a Log” was drawn from 1938 Merrie Melodie cartoon Katnip Kollege. The band rendered the song as a Dixieland jazz shuffle in sync with the cartoon on rear projection screens, featuring Marini’s clarinet.

Combination cowboy song, road song, and lullaby “Sweet Baby James” was played against visual scenes from Taylor’s pop-up children’s storybook by the same name.

“Never Die Young” was sung from the perspective of a hapless narrator watching a younger couple with the world at its feet. The song remains a mixture of melancholy and encouragement, but Taylor leaned upon the latter. “Never die young always seems like obvious advice, but good advice,” he said afterward.

Taylor encored with “Shed a Little Light” before bringing Browne back onstage (who in turn brought Taylor’s wife Kim) to join the All-Star Band. “This is from the pen of Jackson Browne,” said Taylor, introducing the Eagles’ first hit single “Take It Easy.” It was an energetic highlight and set list surprise. “I probably shouldn’t try to follow that,” said Taylor afterward with a laugh, settling in for a final song with the sentimental acoustic song “Secret o’ Life” from 1977’sJTalbum. Although some fans left the hall wondering how the house lights could come up without a performance of “You’ve Got a Friend,” it was the satisfying conclusion of a generous set and a welcome return for fans who had waited ages to bear witness.

– Live Review by Jeff Elbel; Photos; Photos by Philamonjaro (Phillip Solomonson)


Thursday, April 1

BERKSHIREEAGLE.COM — James Taylor to hit road in July; Tanglewood info on horizon

By Clarence Fanto

Berkshire-based singer-songwriter James Taylor is going out on the road this summer, joining a growing list of rock and pop performers planning rescheduled concerts as many states ease or lift restrictions on large gatherings.

Taylor’s 26-stop tour with vocalist and songwriter Jackson Browne, postponed from last summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is scheduled to begin July 29 in Chicago and extends through Aug. 28 in Holmdel, N.J., a distant suburb of New York City. Taylor’s 12-city Canadian tour with roots and blues singer Bonnie Raitt is set to begin Sept. 12 in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

The U.S. tour with Browne resumes Oct. 16 in New Orleans and concludes Nov. 1 in San Diego.

An announcement is expected soon about Taylor’s Tanglewood concert, which might be rescheduled from the original July 4, 2021, date to late summer.

Tanglewood’s abbreviated six-week festival featuring the Boston Symphony Orchestra runs from July 9 to Aug. 16. Program details are expected to be announced next week.

Ticket sales for the Popular Artists series, normally held during the last two weeks of June, have been suspended for the time being. The BSO is trying to reschedule those shows to later in the summer or to the 2022 Tanglewood season, though some might need to be canceled, a recent BSO announcement pointed out.

The BSO stated that it will provide more details when those plans are confirmed and will honor all ticket purchases for events that are not canceled.

“Jackson and I want to thank all those who have graciously held onto their tickets; we appreciate your continued patience as we navigate these unchartered waters,” Taylor stated in a prepared announcement. “We didn’t want to have to cancel this tour that we’ve been waiting so long to perform together, so we’ve been working to get these dates rescheduled to a time period when the U.S. is reopened and safe to gather for a concert.”

Taylor and Browne added that “of course we will be keeping a close eye and abide with all health and safety protocols throughout each venue and state. We can’t wait to get back on stage and see you out there soon.”

The tour announcement from Taylor’s management company points out that previously purchased tickets will be honored for all rescheduled dates, and fans are encouraged to hold on to their tickets.

“Should you be unable to attend the rescheduled date, please reach out to your point of purchase for information on refunds,” the statement added. “The patience of all ticket holders has been appreciated through these uncertain and challenging times.

The first 12 dates for the rescheduled tour are in the Midwest and South, including Pittsburgh, Louisville, Ky., Memphis and Nashville, Tenn., and Atlanta.

A Northeastern leg of the itinerary in late August includes the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in the Catskills in New York, along with a date at an outdoor amphitheater at Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh, N.Y., on Long Island.

The tour is hitting at mixture of outdoor amphitheaters and indoor arenas; there hasn’t been a North America concert in venues of that size since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Rolling Stone reported. As of now, it’s not entirely clear if all announced shows will be permitted in every venue when this tour is supposed to launch in July, the magazine said.

Browne contracted COVID-19 during the early days of the pandemic.

“My symptoms are really pretty mild, so I don’t require any kind of medication and certainly not hospitalization or anything like that,” he told Rolling Stone at the time. “It’s important for us all to be pretty forthcoming about what we’re going through. Our experiences will be helpful for others to know.”