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Lucinda Williams in Oyster Bay NY, July 20, 2002
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Note:  All photos 2002 by Keith Bergendorff

Roger the travelling super-fan arrived by train on Long Island from Boston, where he had seen Lucinda perform the night before.  He called me from his nearby motel, and my son Chris and I grabbed our tickets and drove over to pick him up.  He gave me the Boston set list and brought me up to speed on the show, and I gave him a couple of  bootleg recordings of Lucinda in concert to listen to on his next train ride down to Philly.  We drove up to the Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, a beautiful park on Long Island's North Shore, and after picking up Roger's ticket at the entrance, parked the car and strolled onto the manicured grounds around 6:45.

We had reserved seats near the front of the giant tent in front of the stage, but were dismayed to discover no alcoholic beverages were sold on the premises.  After buying some burgers, salads and sodas for dinner, we wandered over to the side of the stage area where we could see the tour buses.  Soon Doug Pettibone and Taras came strolling out, and Roger (whom they know well by now) greeted them and introduced them to me and my son.  I told Pettibone his girlfriend had sent me a nice email thanking me for the photos I posted of the Pittsburgh show, and promised to get some more of him tonight if they didn't confiscate my camera.  We continued loitering in the area hoping to catch a glimpse of Lu, but only saw her personal assistant Jennifer, who apparently came out to buy her something to eat before the show.

There was a big sign saying No Photographs outside the tent, so I had to forego the use of a flash - I was 10 rows back so it probably wouldn't have helped much anyway.  Chuck Phophet and his band opened with another rollicking set, with his wife Stephanie Finch joining in on backup vocals on many songs (good article on Chuck in this month's No Depression magazine, by the way), and my son was so impressed he bought their latest CD between sets.  Lu's crew set up the traditional candles and incense and did a final soundcheck, and Lucinda and the band came out at about 9:40.

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They opened with strong performances of Drunken Angel, Metal Firecracker and Out of Touch.  Lu's voice was again very strong and the band was tight, and Pettibone continued to impress me with his abilities on guitar and pedal steel.  The audience was primarily upscale Long Island North Shore and were frighteningly quiet (or "attentive" to use Lu's euphemism) when they weren't calling out for older songs.  There were a lot of requests for Lu's older favorites (including one for "Steel Wheels"!) which grew quite annoying, although the new songs received a deservedly warm reception. Lu explained she already has enough new songs for another album "thanks to a few suffering moments recently - always good for a couple of songs". Most of the six new songs were beautifully performed, including Ventura (which I've totally fallen in love with after three hearings), Those Three Days, and Over Time. Righteously sounded a little thin to me (maybe I was spoiled by the sax solo at Central Park), as did Are You Down, which really calls for two guitars and preferably a keyboard to fill out the texture. There was an amusing extended false start on American Dream when Jim Christie came in off the beat, causing Lu to finally halt the band, share a laugh with the audience and start over. Get Right With God and Joy didn't seem to have quite the fire of the two earlier shows I've been to on this tour.  For once, she didn't have 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten in the set list.

The 11:00 curfew kept the performance relatively short with a single 2-song encore, but it was a good one, leading off with the beautiful new song Over Time.  They closed with Real Live Bleeding Fingers and Broken Guitar Strings, a truly great new rocker inspired by Paul Westerberg (Lu recommended his album Stereo to the audience), which was again dedicated to John Entwistle.
 

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The set list:
Drunken Angel
Metal Firecracker
Out of Touch
Ventura (new)
Righteously (new)
Are You Down
Those Three Days (new)
Pineola
American Dream (new)
Get Right With God
Changed the Locks
Essence
Joy
(encore)
Over Time (new)
Real Live Bleeding Fingers and Broken Guitar Strings (new)

Well, I'm off to catch Sue Foley's set at the Riverhead Blues Festival, and then on to Philadelphia!

Thanks for dropping by and taking a look at my photos. Please get in touch with any comments or reactions!