By Roy Trakin.
Sheryl Crow at the Acme Seed & Feed, Nashville
We arrived in Music City just in time for Rolling Stone Country to mark its one-year anniversary with a bash co-promoted by Patron, which launched a film division with a series of online music docs. Sure enough, as one local wag put it, Nashville people like shiny, new things and the turnout was impressive.
Sheryl Crow, who has been living locally for a few years, is one of a handful of rockers looking to country to kick-start their careers, while another, Steven Tyler, is spotted in the crowd with flip-flops singing along to every word. Crow is in good spirits for this industry-heavy crowd, thanking Rolling Stone for helping her break through and reminiscing about how the magazine was the only source of information on rock ‘n’ back in the pre-Internet era. And that’s another thing I like about Nashville – they still believe in the dream.
After introductory remarks from the Patron guy and Jann Wenner’s son Gus (apparently the concept of nepotism is obsolete), Sheryl took the stage looking pretty good at 53, launching into “A Change Would Do You Good,” complete with a wicked Peter Stroud slide guitar solo. “This song goes back to when I was 12,” she laughs, then proceeds to play “All I Wanna Do,” which takes us back to her Tuesday Night Music Club days when Hollywood was a lot more like Nashville than it is now. She follows that with a song from the same album, “Can’t Cry Anymore,” then leads the crowd in a whoop-and-holler call-and-response audience participation she laughs off as “the oldest trick in the book.” There’s a certain un-cynical atmosphere you won’t find in L.A.
Crow then dedicates Tuesday Night’s acoustic “No One Said It Would Be Easy” to her parents, who just celebrated their 60th anniversary, a milestone she must consider ruefully after her own ill-fated marriage to Lance Armstrong. It’s a subject she seems to pick up on with the next song, the Grammy-nominated “My Favorite Mistake” and returns to later in the set with another Tuesday Night selection, “Are You Strong Enough to Be My Man,” both written way before her split with the disgraced Tour de France champion.
She dedicates “Give It To Me,” originally recorded with Vince Gill and Ashley Monroe, to her love of ‘70s country-rockers like Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt and Jessi Colter, which was always her own sweet spot, and goes to show why she’s right at home in this town. The blues-rocking “Best of Times” raises the temperature, with a shvitzing Crow having already shed her jacket to reveal a glittering sleeveless T-shirt, blowing some honking harmonica, then laughing, “Guys love a girl who blows… harp.”
At that point, she eases into “If It Makes You Happy” and “Every Day Is a Winding Road,” which, truth be told, sound nothing like country, but rather show she’s still mostly a rocker at heart, even with Stroud’s twangy riffs harking back to its own C&W roots. What passes for modern country is more classic rock than rock these days… Even Steven Tyler could tell you that.