Tuesday night, October 20th, the Murat Theatre at Old National Centre in Indianapolis filled with the fans of both John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett. The two legendary singer-songwriters took the stage for the second WTTS Rock To Read show of the year. WTTS Rock To Read benefit concerts help to raise money for children’s reading programs through the Indianapolis Public Library.
John Hiatt is a Hoosier singer-songwriter who has written Americana, folk rock, and country blues songs since he moved to Nashville when he was eighteen. Hiatt’s songs have been covered by many other successful musicians. Lyle Lovett is a Texan country folk, Americana, and bluegrass songwriter. Both saw most of their success throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Once Hiatt and Lovett were introduced to the theatre audience, they entered the stage to a standing ovation without having played one song yet. That was an incredible kick-start to the acoustic evening. The stage setup was simple and focused on the two musicians. The two sat in chairs in the middle of the stage. A table of waters and harmonicas sat between them and they were each surrounded by two guitars which they played all evening. No stage hand entered the audience’s vision all evening and it felt informal and relaxed, yet Hiatt and Lovett’s professional and classy demeanor could be felt from start to finish.
Hiatt opened the show with “Detroit Made” and Lovett covered Chuck Berry’s “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” to get the evening started. The two musicians have been friends for years, and it was obvious to the audience. Lovett, the younger of the two, showed open affection for his role model that he shared the stage with. Lovett served as the emcee for the evening, interviewing Hiatt about his favorite guitars, his hippie tendencies, and his time growing up in Indianapolis. Hiatt admitted that “It’s always great to come home” and reminisced on days of being the “ghost of bars past,” playing a coffeehouse on Indiana Avenue, Crazy Al’s, The Vogue, and The Patio in Broad Ripple.
Hiatt and Lovett are both extremely talented guitar players. They discussed the guitars they brought with them (Hiatt’s 1947 Gibson LG2 is notably cool) and the coolest guitars they’ve ever played. Hiatt complimented Lovett on his “damn fancy pickin’” and no one could have described it better. Both musicians had wonderful senses of humor as the two went back and forth with witty banter and comic rapport all night. The men also seemed relatable as they told stories of the past and their homes. Lyle Lovett introduced “White Boy Lost In The Blues” by saying he heard it in 1978 and thought, “This is my life…they know me.” Who hasn’t felt that way?
Highlights of the night included Hiatt’s “Perfectly Good Guitar,” “Feels Like Rain,” “Slow Turnin’” (by request), and “Real Fine Love.” Lovett played crowd favorites “Record Lady” (by request), “Nobody Knows Me,” “If I Had A Boat,” and “Up In Indiana.” The evening closed with Lovett’s “My Baby Don’t Tolerate” before an encore of Hiatt’s “Have A Little Faith In Me” and Lovett’s “Church.”
Lovett admitted near the end of the spectacular evening that they were “proud to be at the Old National Centre and the Murat Theatre at the same time” and the crowd roared with laughter. Indianapolis fans and WTTS listeners were absolutely smitten by the pair of singer-songwriters. John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett’s modern-day vaudeville show provided comedic interest on a stage that was inevitably beaming with years of artistry and craftsmanship.
The final WTTS Rock To Read benefit concert of the season is coming up! Tickets are on sale now for Guster at the Old National Centre on November 13th. Don’t miss the final chance to benefit children’s reading programs in the Indianapolis area and see a WTTS favorite artist.
All photos courtesy of Rhythm In Focus Photography.