Sound Advice: Lucinda Williams Brings Americana Genius to Upcoming Show at Covington's Madison Theater

A Lucinda Williams gig is as uplifting as a church service, as sweaty as a roadhouse dance floor and as joyous as a Cajun wedding.

click to enlarge Lucinda Williams plays Madison Theater at 8 p.m. Sept. 30. - Photo: Danny Clinch, All Eyes Media
Photo: Danny Clinch, All Eyes Media
Lucinda Williams plays Madison Theater at 8 p.m. Sept. 30.

The last time Lucinda Williams tore through our neck of the woods was four years ago when she was sandwiched between opener Steve Earle and headliner Dwight Yoakam at the PNC Pavilion on the cheekily dubbed “LSD Tour.” Williams’ blazing set was conclusive evidence that she easily could have been the evening’s closer, and her appearance on stage with Earle and Yoakam for the main attraction’s closing encore of “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)” showed that she stood shoulder to shoulder with the best acts in the Americana scene. It was the thrilling conclusion to a show that was a cartwheeling series of highlights.

From the outset, Williams was a critical if not commercial success, and she could have ridden her songwriting accolades – by way of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s cover of “Passionate Kisses,” which resulted in Williams’ first Grammy win – to a very comfortable living as a writer providing brilliant material for other performers. But the Louisiana native was born to perform her own work and she proved that with a relentless early career in Texas, playing every honky tonk and dive bar gig she was offered. Williams’ tenacity and natural ability to inhabit any musical style that caught her ear – country, blues, rock, folk – paid off with her fifth album, 1998’s Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, an audio scrapbook of Americana genius that resulted in yet another Grammy win and vaulted her into the wider spotlight.

Williams’ diversity is on constant display, whether in the studio or on stage. She’s covered Bruce Springsteen’s “Factory,” Woody Guthrie’s “House of Earth,” AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Angel,” the latter on a jazz collaboration with legendary saxophonist Charles Lloyd. Moreover, the guest lists on her albums read like a who’s who of contemporary music.

But it is in performance where Williams’ luminous musical spirit shines the brightest – where she folds all of her creative gifts into an aural origami swan of exquisite power, gritty beauty and front porch charm. A Lucinda Williams gig is as uplifting as a church service, as sweaty as a roadhouse dance floor, as joyous as a Cajun wedding and as enlightening as a musicologist’s microdosed acid trip.

Lucinda Williams plays Madison Theater at 8 p.m. Sept. 30. Doors open at 7 p.m. There are no COVID-19 protocols in place for the event. Info: madisontheater.com.


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