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Nanci Griffith

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.

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.

Nanci Griffith

(Tennessee Performing Arts Center; $ 22.50 top; 2,400 capacity)

Production: "This song has no hook. Billy Ray Cyrus will never cut this song," quipped singer/songwriter Nanci Griffith as she introduced a verison of Bob Dylan's "Boots of Spanish Leather" during her sold-out concert last week in Nashville, the first date on her "Other Voices, Other Rooms" world tour.

Cast: With her seven-piece Blue Moon Orchestra providing acoustic filigree and occasional jolts of electricity, Griffith offered her interpretations of material by John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, Paul Kennerly, Janis Ian and even Mick Jagger & Keith Richards. Aside from the Stones' cover, which came out ragged but right, most of the music was played in service to the songs' lyrics.

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