Benefit for Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, La Zona Rosa, August 12

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Benefit for Sarah Elizabeth Campbell

La Zona Rosa, August 12

Like so many benefits, this one had a bittersweet edge to it. A return to the scene of Sarah Elizabeth Campbell's storied "Bummer Nights," which the veteran Austin singer-songwriter hosted at La Zona Rosa for many years, it was also a fundraiser for yet another musician without health insurance. With Campbell having recently been diagnosed with hepatitis, her high stature among songwriters both local and non-local guaranteed some very talented musicians reciprocating some of the love and support she's passed on to so many of her musical peers over the years. There was a Kerrville Folk Fest air to the big room for most of the evening, with some great songwriters sharing their time and music, and the audience, an amazing array of folk music faithful, seemingly thrilled to be there. Performances by singer-songwriter stalwarts Eliza Gilkyson, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Nashville's Greg Troope ranged from honest to ragged to forceful, yet each artist brought a special beauty to the stage. Gilkyson was distinctive and entertaining, and her set was way too brief. Next, Hubbard showed his bluesy side and mostly performed songs from his fabulous new album, Eternal and Lowdown. Campbell joined Trooper for a rendering of his potent and energetic "Ireland," which he introduced by saying it was about a girl from Brooklyn. Campbell and her band, the Banned, followed with songs that were touching and sweetly performed. She proved to be in fine voice, and her accompanying musicians were top-notch. The high point of the evening was the highly anticipated appearance of Iris Dement. Although her live appearances in Austin have been rare the past few years, she showed that she hasn't lost any of her simple charm. Alternating between piano and guitar, Dement enthralled the audience with originals filled with gut-wrenching honesty. Her voice is a quavering beauty, an exquisite match for her finely drawn lyrics and quaint melodies. Overall, the night was a great success, with a large crowd that surely raised some money for Campbell's expenses, and lots of good music. It was yet another demonstration of the Austin music scene's unique community, from the inside out.

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