Patty Griffin

Old Settler's Live Shots

Old Settler's Live Shots
Photo by Shelley Hiam

Patty Griffin

Camp Ben McCulloch, April 17

There's an old Chinese proverb that says, "When the flood recedes, the rock is there." After a heavy downpour and lightning delayed Old Settler's on Saturday night, Patty Griffin embodied that adage with simple beauty and efficient grace. The local singer-songwriter's 75-minute set largely heeded the higher calling of this year's Downtown Church, with original spirituals "We Shall All Be Reunited" and the jaunty "Move Up." Guitarist Buddy Miller helped bring out the more gothic undertones of traditionals "Wade in the Water" and "If I Had My Way" and dug back to the roots of American music for he and Griffin's disarming duet "Never Grow Old." It's no wonder Robert Plant tapped the two for his Band of Joy. The stark, prison yard gospel of opener "Standing" and "Death's Got a Warrant" sounded straight off of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? chain gang, but Griffin didn't preach. Her solo acoustic fireball "No Bad News" matched the roadhouse romp of "I Smell a Rat," which found bandleader and guitarist Doug Lancio trading fiery licks with Miller. A closing encore rendition of the Fabulous Thunderbirds' "Why Get Up" made a strong case against Sunday morning redemption. As evinced by her telling Waylon Jennings cover "I Do Believe," Griffin's still in the process of discovering her own faith – she sounded at times as if she's singing to the spirit, not with it – but damned if she still didn't make you a believer.

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