Amid bouquets of gift flowers set on stage, Griffith gave a two-hour show laden with material from her new Elektra release, which is a tribute to her favorite songs and songwriters.
“I’ve never heard Nashville be this quiet,” Griffith told the charmed crowd, whose numbers were most likely dominated by professional and aspiring tunesmiths.
Although the tour showcases a tribute album, fans of Griffith’s material on her numerous folk and country albums weren’t ignored. The prolific songwriter sprinkled several of her popular tunes throughout the repertoire, including “A Hard Life,” which she called “the most important song” she’ll ever write. The song concerns raising your children in an atmosphere of social understanding and tolerance.
Other highlights included Griffith’s renditions of “The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness” by John Prine and her own “Gulf Coast Highway” and “Ford Econoline,” covered by numerous artists. Griffith’s distinct, high-pitched vocal style can sometimes make her seem fragile on recordings, but the live set demonstrated how vibrant both Griffith and her music are. There were numerous stories and digressions, including Griffith’s encouragement for the minor league hockey team Nashville Knights.
Many also came to see opening acts Iris DeMentt and Guy Clark, but Clark was ill and unable to perform. Kansas native DeMentt performed solo acoustic numbers culled from her Rounder/Philo release, “Infamous Angel,” and sang backup on several songs with Griffith. Her solo performance was authentic country, and warmly received.