On Aug. 13, 2022 two legends of American music grace the Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre stage.
Bonnie Raitt is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee with a dozen Grammy Awards on her shelf. Raitt’s musical journey began in the late 1960s while attending Harvard/Radcliffe College. Active in the social justice movement and Boston’s folk and blues music scene, Raitt eventually left school to dedicate herself full-time to the blues. She opened for greats like Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Sippie Wallace using the opportunity to develop her craft under their tutelage. A young, redheaded white woman shredding blues guitar licks seemed like a novelty at first, but Raitt soon gained a reputation as a solid blues and slide guitarist with a soulful voice.
She recorded her debut album in 1971 and then hit the road to build her fan base. For the next two decades she lived the life of a road warrior recording eight more albums along the way. It wouldn’t be until 1989 when she signed with Capitol Records and went into the studio with producer Don Was to record Nick of Time that she found commercial success. The album shot to number one on the Billboard charts and earned her three Grammy Awards in 1990. Her follow-up album Luck of the Draw (1991) brought even greater success with two hit singles “Something to Talk About” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me” earning three more Grammys. After nearly 20 years on the road, Raitt had finally reached popular and critical acclaim. In 2000, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2022 received a lifetime achievement award from the Grammys.
More than 50 years after the release of her first album, a cover of blues standards, she released her self-produced album Just Like That, a genre-fluid gem providing great new songs like “Livin’ for the Ones,” a heartfelt homage to those who didn’t survive the pandemic. At 72, there’s no slow lane for this soulful blues legend.
Mavis Staples is in her eighth decade as a musical artist. She started her professional career in 1952 as a member of her family’s gospel/folk band The Staple Singers. The band is best known for the gospel/folk hit “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” (1966) and the Stax Records soul and funk hits “Respect Yourself” (1971) and “I’ll Take You There” (1972). She sang at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961 and marched alongside Dr. King for civil rights and social justice. She’s won multiple Grammys and is a two-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—first in 1999 as a member of the Staple Singers and again in 2019 as a solo artist. In 2016 she was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and in 2018 the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
At 83, Staples just released Carry Me Home, a 12-track live album from a 2011 Midnight Ramble session she recorded with Levon Helm at his Woodstock venue just before his death from cancer. “This is My Country” is a particularly poignant track considering Staples’ life-long activism for social justice. To hear Helm’s skillful drumming nearly a dozen years after his death is haunting yet gratifying.
Catching these two titans of American music in such an intimate and beautiful setting is this summer’s “must-see” show.
- Who: Bonnie Raitt with very special guest Mavis Staples
- What: Bonnie Raitt: Just Like That Tour
- Where: Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre
- When: Aug. 13, 2022
- Tickets and info: redbuttegarden.org