Jonathan Wilson confidently walked onstage this past week at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever to deliver an astounding performance of his fourth studio album, Dixie Blur, on the day of the albums release.
Priming us for a night full of indie-folk and country was Los Angeles’ own Valley Queen, playing a much more stripped back and relaxed version of their typical set. Having seen them in the past, this was a welcoming change of pace. Valley Queen’s Natalie Carol graced us with her heavenly voice and eclectic mix of acoustic and electric guitars. Her usual drummer was on keyboards duty for the night, which left us with a mighty duo that truly knocked it out of the park, considering the bands future has been on the rocks as of late.
Jonathan Wilson and his stacked band of talented musicians crammed themselves on the Masonic Lodge’s stage and immediately took off into the singles released prior to Dixie Blur. A one, two, and three punch came as the band loosened up with beautiful live renditions of Just For Love, ‘69 Corvette, and the punchy In Heaven Making Love. Having only listened to the album twice on my drive over to the venue, it becomes difficult to witness unfamiliar songs in their live form. You so badly want to like them, and know that you will when given time to sit with them, but it can leave a crowd not quite as engaged as you’d want.
Next up in Wilson’s setlist was a small taste of the highlights off his last release, Rare Birds. The dancing picked up immediately as There’s A Light was played, because honestly, who could stop themselves from grooving when hearing that jam. After that, the setlist jumped around from album to album featuring Wilson’s hits over the last 9 years. Witnessing a greatest hit such as Desert Raven being played in full was a true sight to behold. The way that Wilson’s band plays together is a reflection of art. The weaving of the slide guitar, violin, and upright bass paired with Wilson’s rugged yet smooth voice is enviable.
Wilson played a near 2 hour set spanning his full catalogue and really showing off his range when it comes to mixing folk, country, and sprinklings of psychedelic elements. As the show came to an end, we were all presented with an extremely rare treat during the encore. Wilson hopped back on stage and introduced us to one of music’s biggest stars of the 1970’s, Jackson Browne. The two played a stripped back version of various songs off Wilson’s Gentle Spirit to close up the show. What a true honor it was to witness rock royalty up close and personal during such an intimate performance. For the older folks in the room, you can only imagine the joy and surprise flowing throughout their music-loving selves. We can only assume that whoever Wilson brought out during the second night of his Hollywood Forever residency wouldn’t quite live up.
If Jonathan Wilson is coming to a city near you, we highly recommend snagging yourself a ticket during this Dixie Blur tour. You can catch him in various states and countries around North America and Europe. Check out his tour dates by clicking this link.
Words by Austin Sher
Photos by Sarah Woods