It’s no mystery that Bonnie Raitt is a big influence and inspiration to me. You may ask yourself what this has to do with me being excited about playing a concert with Bonnie Bishop. It’s not just the fact that they’re both called Bonnie…though that’s interesting too! Let me explain. Very few artists are able to perform other writers’s songs and truly own that song to the point that people identify the song with them. Bonnie Raitt doesn’t just sing other people’s songs. She inhabits them, wearing them as if they were clothes that belonged to her. When you listen to Bonnie Raitt’s repertoire, you feel like those are Bonnie Raitt songs, not songs by John Hiatt, John Prine, Joni Mitchell, or whoever else wrote them. My girl, Bonnie interprets songs like she’s lived them. And I’m a believer.
Performing the song is only 50% of the art of owning the song. The other half is actually an artist’s ability to select the right repertoire. And once again, Bonnie nails it every time. She has the ability to mine the songwriting universe and find gems. And unlike other established artists, she’s not afraid to find undiscovered talented writers and give them a shot. I remember when Souls Alike came out. I took it home and fell in love with songs like I Don’t Want Anything to Change and The Bed I Made. That lead me to the liner notes to discover the great songwriting of Maia Sharp. If you don’t know her already, please check her out. She’s a great singer and songwriter in her own right.
When Slipstream was released, I was very much looking forward to being introduced to some new writers….like Bob Dylan…huh? Okay, well on this album, she went back to some tried and true giants. Dylan is Dylan after all and will not be denied. However, she still had time to find a great song by a songwriter who is not as well known as Dylan. That song is Not Cause I Wanted To. And that songwriter is Bonnie Bishop. The song is actually a co-write with Al Anderson from NRBQ, and it is a beautiful ballad, with the feel of an instant Bonnie Raitt classic. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, the New York Times just named it the best song of 2012.
Did you listen to it? Pretty awesome, huh? This one song lead me to listen to lots of Bonnie Bishop songs and to watch lots of Bonnie Bishop videos. First of all, I love her voice – it’s got that bluesy, soul rasp that I love so much, And the songwriting is terrific. Check out this beautiful song, Free.
So you can imagine how excited I was to find out that I will be opening for Bonnie Bishop on May 7 at Johnny D’s in Somerville! Please come down! You will not regret it. I am opening at 8PM in a duo format with Jimmy Ryan on mandolin, Bonnie goes on at 9pm.