Written by Dave Clements
Jun 28, 2013 at 07:00 PM
ImageIt was a three and a half hour, slow going, pre-fourth of July holiday drive to get to Gruene Hall. Despite all of that, there was no doubt in this writer’s mind that there  was absolutely no place in Texas he’d rather be than watching the very hot sun set in New Braunfels on this Friday night.

My wife and I made the hike to watch Bonnie Bishop open and Leon Russell close a special night of great music in the historical venue.

Let me start with the opener BB. If you haven’t seen her perform yet you owe it to yourself to come out the next time she travels to your area. Although she lives and works in Nashville, she spends about 250 days on the road each year and often graces the music venues of our great state.

Don’t be fooled by her being a resident of Tennessee, as she is Texas born and bred! And she can kick some Lone Star State musical butt! This particular evening she brought along two terrific helpers that made her performance even more special. On guitar from Colorado Mr. Matt Skinner and from Austin ‘Mr. Keyboards’ Riley Osborne .

ImageBonnie came well prepared for the honor of opening, wearing her Mr. Leon Russell look-a-like Top Hat and brought the same spirit that is so prevalent in his music.

Her latest album is one of my favorites titled Free, and worth the buy!

Besides the title cut, another great song is Keep Using Me. She also bragged, rightfully so, that she had written a song on Bonnie Raitt’s newest Grammy winning album Slipstream.

You can Google and enjoy it. It’s called Not ‘Cause I Wanted To.

BTW, BB reminds me a lot of BR and I don’t know about you but from my perspective that is a damned nice compliment. Check her out.

Leon Russell is a musical icon, need I say more?

I had seen him several years ago and now upon reflection, I realize he must have not been feeling well that night. There is simply no comparison to the show we saw at Gruene Hall this night. Mr. Russell was helped on stage, and didn’t look particularly well as he shuffled to the stage. Thank God he had on shoes or he would have had a million splinters this being a historic dance hall and all.

ImageThen just like that, when he hit the stage the switch went on and Leon rocked for a full hour and a half non-stop with high rockin’ energy. He just looked like he was really enjoying himself and it was nice to see him chatty during his set. He had the full attention of the sold out hot and sweaty ‘LEON-lifers’. It was so much fun to observe and listen to this man ( plus I had a camera in my hand the entire time and my beautiful wife close by).  Oh what a night!

I won’t recite his set list but I will say that he played most all of our favorites including Lady Blue, Delta Lady,  the sweet and haunting A Song for You and of course Magic Mirror.

On a final note, this 71 year old gentleman sat on his bus after the show and signed everything that the nearly 100 people lined up outside of it brought to him. That was mighty impressive; not many musical icons do that (but should).

Thank you Mr. Russell, I tip my hat to you!

Until next time remember, there’s no time to kill,