Brad Meador
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Aug 27

Patty Griffin at the Mountain Winery

Patty Griffin has it. I don’t know what it is, but you just know it when you hear it. Case in point, several years ago I went to see Patty at a songwriter’s pull with Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Dar Williams at the Warfield. All lovely singer songwriters in their own right; but it must have been embarrassing for those women to share the stage with Patty. Something about her electrifying voice speaks right to the heart and makes all other sound pale in comparison. Much like James Taylor, I think Patty could sing anything and she would have the audience swooning. Over the years I’ve swooned at the Variety Playhouse, the Warfield x2, the Fillmore x2, the Great American Music Hall, a tiny Tex Mex restaurant in South Austin and Slim’s on the hottest SF day on record with surprise guest Natalie Maines….

So last night I went to see her at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga. And while this wasn’t the absolute best Patty Griffin performance I’ve seen, it was in full effect. Of note, she opened with the cover Hang on St. Christopher which is off one of my favorite Tom Waits albums. Happily she played a few older songs from Flaming Red – an album that is jarring compared to her folkier work but brilliant and under appreciated. She did play my current favorite Up to the Mountain, but sadly without the lead guitar of Doug Lancio this time.

Patty Griffin - Children Running Through My favorite albums, not surprisingly, are the ones where she really lets he voice shine.  She said in concert last year that she’d been advised to sing quietly on previous albums.  Thankfully she ignored that and really belted out on her latest masterpiece, Children Running Through.  It shows. If you don’t have this album, go buy it now. Sadly, it looks like Rhapsody doesn’t have it available, so I can’t link to samples here.

Her debut album Living With Ghosts will always hold a special place in my heart. It reminds me of contented Sunday mornings and cardamom flavored coffee. That has nothing to do with the album – all acoustic guitar and vocals filled with loud, bitter tunes – but more because I’ve got my own things going on.  Anyway, here’s the album on Rhapsody:

Let Him Fly
Every Little Bit
Time Will Do The Talking (Mariah moment and all)
Mad Mission
Poor Man’s House
You Never Get What You Want
Sweet Lorraine
Not Alone

And here are a few gems from Flaming Red:

One Big Love

Also check out Chief, Tomorrow Night and Mil Besos from 1,000 Kisses.

Finally, I’ve made my sister record some Patty Griffin tunes over the years.  I Write the Book (clip here) is off some bootleg I found and probably my all time favorite Patty song (really, really bitter):

I Write the Book
Time Will Do the Talking
One Big Love

Take a listen. If you figure out what it is, please let me know.

  1. couldn’t agree more w/ what your wrote. I have almost all of her albums, and most recently purchased the live at the artists den. She is one of my absolute favs….and I think ‘Living with Ghosts’ is her best.

    Comment by Kelly — November 2, 2008