The water is wide

Karla Bonoff and Livingston Taylor came to town for two holiday themed shows at the Dakota this week. Karla has listed upcoming appearances here. This is a beautiful, beautiful show. Among other upcoming shows I want to note that they will hit the Birchmere in Alexandria on Tuesday. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you seize the opportunity to see the show. We made it last night and had a ball.

Taylor came out on stage an hour before the show to tweak his guitar. Picking a chord in the dark, he struck the instantly recognizable Taylor guitar sound. I walked up close to the stage. To my surprise, he extended his hand and introduced himself. “Livingston Taylor,” he said. I didn’t have any doubt about that. I told him I’d been a fan since his first album on Atco. “That was a week or two ago,” he said.

During the show Livingston mentioned that he recorded a set of songs with the BBC Concert Orchestra earlier this year, arrangements by Bill Elliott (of Berklee College of Music). He is posting a song a month to YouTube. “I Will Be In Love With You” goes back “a week or two” and still sounds pretty, pretty good to me. The song originally appeared on his album Three Way Mirror (1978), which also included “Going Round One More Time.” Brother James subsequently covered “Going Round” on That’s Why I’m Here.

Playing two sets with an intermission, Livingston and Karla rotate on and off the stage. They also share the stage for several songs in both sets with Livingston occasionally adding harmony parts to Karla’s songs. Karla is a poignant songwriter with a voice to match. We love her work.

Livingston and Karla came out together for the encore in elvish hats (photo at top) to play three Christmas songs. When they took the stage, however, someone at the table next to us shouted out for the classic folk song “The Water Is Wide.” Livingston responded, “Let’s do it,” and added a harmony part along with guitarist Sean McCue to Karla’s lead vocal. In Karla’s recorded version below, James Taylor and J.D. Souther add the harmony parts in the third and fourth verses. Last night it went something like this.

Livingston Taylor has had a long career teaching at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He turns his teaching to entertaining use in the course of his performance. Unfortunately, YouTube seems to have inserted ads before just about every video posted to the site. If Livingston’s motto is “always be teaching,” YouTube’s is “always be selling.” For me it almost entirely dampens the joy of sharing the videos. Here I nevertheless wanted to bring this unusual and enjoyable show to the attention of readers who might be interested.

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.