Rodney Crowell Tour

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Rodney Crowell may not be well known, but that doesn’t diminish his music’s significance – he is one of the master songwriters of this century!

He began by charting five country hits and has since successfully transitioned into alt-country with Street Language and his Mary Karr collaboration Kin. Now, he harvests Americana — an off-road hybrid of blues and roots rock from Texas — through Americana music.

The songwriter’s songwriter

Rodney Crowell is an award-winning, two-time Grammy winner who excels at artist-oriented songwriting, infusing emotion and sincerity into every song that comes his way. With 15 number-one hits under his belt – many recorded by country icons like Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and George Strait – as well as current chart toppers like Keith Urban – Rodney also received ASCAP’s Founders Award last September!

Nashville royalty since the early 1970s, his musical career really flourished when he met Rosanne Cash in 1976 and married her as co-writer with her. It quickly garnered him credibility in Nashville. His breakthrough hit came in 1978 with Heartworn Highways title track; its lyrics depict his rough and tumble upbringing in East Texas, living with both an alcoholic father and religious mother.

Commercial success finally arrived ten years later with his album Diamonds and Dirt, which produced five consecutive number-one country hits. Additionally, he wrote hits for such artists as Bob Seger, Etta James, the Grateful Dead, John Denver, and Jimmy Buffett.

Crowell began exploring other genres with his 1989 release from New West Records’ Until the End of the World, which proved an instant hit among both critics and fans, lauded for its intricate narratives and storytelling abilities, creating songs with beautiful, poignant stories to tell.

While his musical style has evolved over the years, Crowell remains committed to writing songs with purpose and craft that connect with audiences. His songs often explore topics as diverse as love and mortality, relationships within personal networks, or social issues affecting communities.

Crowell’s live shows are an absolute treat for fans, whether he’s performing original material or joining other artists on stage. His baritone vocals pair beautifully with his masterful finger-picking on an acoustic guitar that always stays put during his performances, sometimes even including duets with fellow musicians or singer-songwriters!

Texan native

Rodney Crowell hails from Texas, and his music embodies the state’s rich history. One of the premier country songwriters today, his repertoire boasts 15 number-one hits and collaborations with singers such as Tim McGraw and Keith Urban. A member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as ASCAP Founder’s Award recipient, Rodney has written for country icons Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Emmylou Harris while also contributing songs outside his genre for such artists as Grateful Dead and Etta James among many others.

He possesses an unparalleled talent for conveying emotion and authenticity in his songs with performances that match. In 2019, he released Texas, an aptly titled collection of Lone Star-centric collaborations. This album offers everything from two-steppers, hard-driving blues rockers, and windblown prairie gems to guest musicians such as Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson, Ronnie Dunn, and Steve Earle making appearances throughout. Each track on Texas is defined by precision craftsmanship that has become his trademark, creating profoundly moving yet honest music that resonates throughout.

This album’s songs cover everything from love and death, racial tensions and border disputes, Texas culture as a whole, and its influence by various genres such as traditional country and Americana music. Lyrically, the songs contain melancholic undertones while remaining upbeat; many even seem celebratory!

Rodney Crowell offers something for every musical taste imaginable – be it heartfelt ballads or cheeky political commentary – in his Grammy-winning troubadour performances and concerts, from intimate solo settings to huge shows with thousands of audience members watching him perform. His fans feel like family to him, making his concerts genuinely remarkable events for audiences all around the globe.

Multi-Grammy Award-winning troubadour

“The Songwriter’s Songwriter,” Texas native Rodney Crowell is not only a multiple Grammy winner with fifteen number-one hits to his credit but has written songs for notable performers like Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, and Rosanne Cash. Growing up during Nashville’s golden era alongside Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, and Steve Earle, his legacy spans deep and wide.

On Saturday night at the Birchmere, he presented an acoustic version of his latest album, Acoustic Classics. Accompanied by guitarist Jedd Hughes and Columbus bassist Molly Pauken, he navigated his songbook with great care – including four from Kin, his fantastic collaboration with poet Mary Karr – through two hours of performances that blended rockabilly, honky tonk, country, folk, and bluegrass styles.

As part of his album’s theme, Crowell began with some acoustic renditions of some of his most well-known work: “Many a Long and Lonesome Highway,” “Jewel of the South,” and a stunning version of “Earthbound,” an original track from 2003’s Fate’s Right-Hand album.

After the openers, Crowell performed select tracks from his most recent release, Triage. These included political “Something Has to Change” and spiritual songs like “This Body Isn’t All There Is To Who I Am”.

Crowell’s songwriting talent is so expansive that he could have quickly filled out more material without compromising quality. Instead, he took bold risks by featuring Sarah Buxton for “Loving You Is the Only Way to Fly”.

Crowell couldn’t possibly discuss his career without acknowledging his well-known partnerships with Harris, such as on The Traveling Kind and Old Yellow Moon albums released during the middle of this decade, which can both be found here on this setlist. They even performed together again at two concerts earlier this year!

A signpost in American music

Rodney Crowell has demonstrated over his five-decade-long career that he is more than just a country music icon. As one of the pioneers of Americana and roots music, Rodney Crowell has become an integral component of both these genres and has even been honored with two Grammys, 15 #1 hits on the Country charts, six Americana Music Awards as well as being honored with both Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame status as well as receiving the Poet’s Award from Academy of Country Music.

Crowell was immersed in Houston’s honky-tonk culture from an early age. By fifteen, he had begun writing songs. By twenty, his group had started touring small Texas towns with their original compositions on cassette. One cassette in particular caught Emmylou Harris’s eye, and she invited him to join her Hot Band for three years.

The resultant music was an iconic moment in country music history, ushering in an era of raw authenticity. Additionally, Crowell went on to release several critically acclaimed solo albums throughout the 1980s and ’90s.

In 2012, Rodney Crowell joined forces with New York Times best-selling author Mary Karr for KIN: Songs by Mary Karr & Rodney Crowell. Karr said of Rodney Crowell that, like Townes Van Zandt or Hank Williams, “he writes and sings with poet’s economy and well digger’s heart.”

Since then, Crowell has written chart-topping hits for country stars like Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings, as well as contemporary country artists Keith Urban and Tim McGraw – not to mention beloved songs for artists as varied as Bob Seger, Etta James, and the Grateful Dead!

Crowell’s Chicago Sessions album, produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, remains as thoughtful and relevant as ever, touching upon themes ranging from love, mortality, race, and religion while simultaneously maintaining meticulous craftsmanship with joyful liberation at every turn. Join Laurel Lewis, along with special guests Eammon McLoughlin and Jedd Hughes, for an evening of music that resonates with its home city of Chicago!