The one planned event, on our calendar since May, was a concert on Saturday night at the Hollywood Bowl: Lyle Lovett opening for Willie Nelson!
Honestly, I couldn't have dreamed of a better line-up. Okay, maybe last year when Juan Luis Guerra and Juanes played together, a concert that I missed because I was out of town. And that's the thing - almost every summer I've looked at the Hollywood Bowl concerts and usually those that most appealed to me were when we were traveling. So, I was a newcomer to the Hollywood Bowl, a quintessential LA summer experience, an embarrassing fact considering that I've lived in this area for 8 years now. Fortunately, we've now crossed off "See concert at Hollywood Bowl" from our must-do list, but now we would like to return as soon as possible! But probably won't until next year...
Back to this concert - we'd seen Lyle Lovett before, at Red Rocks in Colorado and Disney Concert Hall, both of which are amazing venues. He's a fantastic performer - not only because of his music but also because he brings other talented musicians together in his Large Band and really lets them shine. I can't claim to be a huge Willie Nelson fan, but how can you not admire the man who is such a great figure in American music? And, he's 80 years old. While he still seems to be going pretty strong, I thought that it would be a good opportunity to see him because who knows when we'd have the chance again?
So, for this concert, the music was great, but even better was the Hollywood Bowl "experience". I now totally GET IT - why people rave about the Hollywood Bowl. Part of it, of course, has to do with the scenery - an outdoor amphitheatre with a view of the Hollywood sign, but a lot of it is the laid-back approach to letting people bring in their own food and booze. I kept reading information to confirm that we really could bring a cooler and plenty to eat and drink and just plunk ourselves down and have a picnic. It seemed just way too laissez-faire for a concert, but that was exactly what happened. We arrived plenty early, enjoyed eating and drinking as we watched all of the people. In terms of people-watching, this surpassed the airport. What a variety of individuals! We tried to guess who, out of the crowd, had attended the very first Farm Aid concert. I think that we picked out two people as strong possibilities. Also, totally random - a woman walks by us, and Michael says, "That looks like my cousin. Hey, I think it is my cousin!" And it turned out to be his cousin from Oregon, in town for work and the concert. Small freakin' world. I'm not sure if every concert attracts such a diverse crowd, or if the Lyle and Willie combination
Again, we enjoyed the concert - Lyle and Willie were great, of course, playing lots of favorites and the crowd often singing along. Willie's main set was the 1978 album Stardust, which he played in its entirety, accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl orchestra. That was all pretty low-key, but then he switched the hat for a bandana and ended with a set of some of his more outlaw songs - "Shotgun Willie", "Whiskey River", "Mama don't let you babies grow up to be cowboys" (of course!), and he concluded with "Roll me up and smoke me when I die" - a fitting end to the evening!
I know that I said that it was "near-perfect", but I'm not sure what would have improved upon it. Maybe this really was the ideal summer weekend! Well, we didn't get to the beach nor did I get on the bike, so I'll stick to the near-perfect. But that's not a bad place to be!