(At Chateau Ste Michelle Winery, Woodinville 8/30/09 by Bellamy Pailthorp: KPLU News)
I’m someone who likes to separate work and play. When I’m off the clock from my job as a news reporter at KPLU, I try not to think too much about covering the events of the day, unless there’s an obvious big breaking story. Everyone needs the chance to turn off the left side of the brain, relax, and recharge their batteries now and then — especially heading into the work week after a busy and eventful summer weekend.
Nonetheless, out came my notebook and a pen last Sunday night and I found myself taking detailed notes as I watched – and most of all listened to –Diana Krall performing on the last stop of her latest tour.
In case you somehow didn’t know, Krall is one of my generation’s most famous jazz pianists and vocalists. She’s the only artist I would trust to cover Joni Mitchell’s 1971 song “A Case of You” — and that song was a highlight of my evening. She was in Woodinville playing the picturesque Chateau Ste. Michelle winery – a venue where she’s appeared a few times over the past decade. I sat on the lawn with my date behind a group of people who were celebrating a birthday party. They were really nice, and I didn’t have to pay for my tickets, so I didn’t get too grumpy when I realized their furniture was rendering useless the binoculars I had rented for $5. Maybe I could have found a better spot on the hill, but it was too late to move. I don’t like craning my neck. So I decided to relax instead and concentrate on what I could hear.
Don’t get me wrong: Diana Krall is someone I’d love to watch for hours. I even purchased her latest DVD after the concert. It’s hard not to wonder what that stunning blonde with the quirky deep voice actually looks like in person on stage. But live outdoor performance includes more than visual stimulation – it’s about experiencing a unique moment in time and sharing it with people around you. Despite not actually seeing much of her show, four days later I’m still relishing memories of what I heard – and of how often Krall’s comments and interaction with the audience made me laugh.
Many people in the crowd had been there for a while tasting wine before the show – it’s a great place to have a picnic and you can bring your own everything (excluding cameras)…so I think it’s safe to assume the most vocal people in the crowd had tied a few on by the time Krall started singing, a little after 8pm. During a break after the third song, she turned to the audience and introduced her trio (Anthony Wilson on guitar, Robert Hurst on bass, Jeff Hamilton on drums.) Then she greeted everyone there as if they were friends she hadn’t seen in while.
“How’ve you been?” she asked as the sun was setting in a picture perfect clear blue sky, complete with brightly colored hot air balloons circling overhead. “The weather’s been good, aye?”
She told us how much she loved this corner of the continent (she’s from Nanaimo, BC, which at one point she described as “just up the street” from Woodinville, eliciting lots of laughs). She added that the end of summer is her favorite time of year. Then someone I couldn’t hear, in the expensive seats up close, seemed to have yelled out a question. Krall, who gave birth to twins three ago in December (12/6/06,) responded with as much mischievous soul as she plays the piano.
“How are my boys?!” They’re good, thanks for asking,” she replied. “They’re back at the hotel smoking cigars and playing gin rummy.”
Someone else yelled something and she said: “How’s Elvis?” (That would be Elvis Costello, her husband of six years, who was also touring this summer and played the winery just a week earlier.) She said she didn’t know; she wasn’t even sure where he was that night: “I think he’s in Austin?” she guessed, adding, “I have a picture of him in my dressing room with lipstick kisses all over it – most of them are mine.” And she said something about throwing lingerie on stage at him when she heard him play earlier this summer. As much fun as she’s been having on tour, she was happy that this was the last night.
Later in the concert, (I think it was after she sang “Walk on By” by composer Burt Bacharach, who she called “a great person with fabulous hair” and said she thinks he’s as great as Gershwin,) she mentioned that her twins had started talking recently. That’s been great, she said, but it’s meant not getting a lot of sleep at night, especially in the wee hours – and for different reasons than at other points in her life. Someone yelled out another question and somehow, the subject again turned to lingerie: would she please toss some of hers into the crowd? She said she would if she could, but she had run out on this long tour.
“Honey, I would, but, I’m a mother of twins now. We’re all up here performing without underwear.”
I’m guessing the band members were all blushing. That’s the image that remains in my mind – even though I couldn’t actually see it.
[editor’s note: Diana Krall’s latest CD is Quiet Nights, her tour continues in Hamburg, Germany on Sept. 14th)