photo by sam jones

August 12, 2009

Raitt brings Bontaj Roulet

She and Taj Mahal ‘two elder statespeople of music of all kinds’

Bonnie Raitt is many things to many people. She’s an active legacy of 1970s Warner Bros. Records, when the imprint had a distinct family feel. She’s a leading candidate for the title of Best Female Guitarist. She’s an activist and archivist — in the latter role, she’s most likely to bring old, deep blues styles to adult contemporary radio. And she’s benefactor of the biggest career turnaround following a winning night at the Grammys (1989 masterpiece Nick of Time).

She’s also a perpetually popular concert draw — one who’s fond of co-headlining. This year, she’s adding new Blues Hall of Fame inductee Taj Mahal for a tour they’ve called “Bontaj Roulet.” As Raitt told LEO during rehearsals, “Taj and I have been in and about each other’s records and been in benefit shows and backstage a lot and been friends a long time, but never toured together. I came up with that idea of Bontaj Roulet a few years ago, to have us be … not so much a brand, but two elder statespeople of music of all kinds.”

Both acts will have their full bands along, with the setlists programmed to bring out musical cross-pollination. The night will include interpretations of duets from musical forebears. Raitt wouldn’t name names, but think Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell. “Being R&B and blues fans ourselves, there are so many classic duets from over the years, we could probably go on for two evenings’ worth. Finding the songs and narrowing them down has been daunting as much as it’s been fun.”

The rehearsals out in the San Francisco area (where both headliners live) featured “dueling laptops … some obscure gems that (Taj) got a kick out of. Wide-ranging stuff that really pumps it up and some cool stuff that people will really be surprised at. I think one of the coolest things we’ll be doing is the two-guitar acoustic section.”

Raitt is encouraging traffic to the tour’s website (www.bontaj.com), especially the fundraising page. “I did the Lilith Fair in ’99 and was really impressed with the dollar-a-ticket component for fundraising,” she says, and a decade later she’s placed her own spin on that. Online visitors can vote on the cause for which donations from the artists and ticket companies will be applied.

Bontaj Roulet
Wednesday, Aug. 19
The Palace
625 S. Fourth St.
583-4555
www.louisvillepalace.com
$59.50-$69.50; 7:30 p.m.

HEAR MORE:
Bonnie Raitt
www.bonnieraitt.com
Taj Mahal
www.tajblues.com