Independence Day and National Country Music Day both fall on the same day, making it appropriate to take a look at the career of Lyle Lovett, who appears with His Large Band on July 25 in Reynolds Hall. Lovett carved an independent path throughout his career by following his musical muses, arriving on the scene in the mid-’80s as a country music traditionalist at a time when Nashville slickness had replaced the outlaw movement. His smooth tenor, roots-revival sound and songwriting prowess were a potent combination, as evidenced by “God Will” and “This Old Porch” from his 1986 eponymous debut.
The Texas-native’s material was more iconoclastic than contemporaries such as Randy Travis and Dwight Yoakam, but was a precursor to the Americana movement of the mid-’90s. Lovett developed a cult following among fans who saw how he fit into a lineage that could be traced back to country music forefathers such as Jimmie Rodgers. Rodgers, “The Singing Brakeman,” was honored with a festival in 1956 on the anniversary of his death on May 26, 1933. A country music DJ association decided a date honoring Rodgers was appropriate for National Country Music Day as well, but the unofficial holiday was eventually moved to July 4.
Lovett’s independent spirit is exemplified by his work with the ensemble he’s worked with since recording 1989’sLyle Lovett and His Large Band. That album contained a moving cover of Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man,” with Lovett’s broken-hearted delivery sounding like a plea for the world to appreciate authenticity and integrity in country music. Lovett’s last recording, 2012’s Release Me, found him breathing new life into an album’s worth of songs by his favorite roots artists, which he and his musician friends will render live in spectacular fashion when they take advantage of the awesome acoustics of Reynolds Hall.
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