When: Sat., March 7, 8 p.m. 2015
JD SOUTHER & CARRIE RODRIGUEZ
SATURDAY, MARCH 7
DUKE'S BALDWIN AUDITORIUM, DURHAM—In the early '70s, John David Souther helped shape California's country-rock sound. He became an influential voice of the Laurel Canyon scene. Souther has since collaborated with Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor, Brian Wilson and Roy Orbison, and he's been covered by The Dixie Chicks and Glen Campbell alike. But guitars and songwriting never occurred to him as a teenager; born in Detroit and raised in Amarillo, he grew up playing tenor saxophone, clarinet and drums.
"I don't think I even held a guitar until I was 22 or 23," Souther says. "Someone left an acoustic guitar in my apartment, and I just started doodling with it. It seemed to work out all right."
After finally getting fed up with Los Angeles traffic, Souther moved to Nashville at the suggestion of Rodney Crowell. He's thankful for the 10 acres he was able to wrangle when he sold his Hollywood Hills dream home. "Two summers ago, I was pretty excited about [my induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame], but I was more excited when I came home and there were six foot bales of wheat all over my field," he enthuses.
Souther has yet to turn into a complete farm boy; his latest albums have gone back to his jazz roots. He calls his forthcoming, Larry Klein-produced Dance Real Slow "an agonizing labor of love" and the album he enjoys most. Indeed, a sophisticated ease pervades the LP, which pairs dramatic strings and bold horns with soft piano and his plaintive, grainy tenor. Souther's excited to fold the new material into the trio set he'll play at Duke, which will also include some "strange standards you've probably never heard before," he says.
For this double-bill, Texas-born singer-songwriter Carrie Rodriguez opens with sweet, bluesy roots-rock. Souther has shared the stage with her before and hopes they'll be able to play a tune or two together in Durham.
"Our styles are not incompatible," he says, "but they're different enough that it should be a really fascinating evening." 8 p.m., $10–$38, 1336 Campus Dr., Durham, 919-684-4444, dukeperformances.duke.edu. —Spencer Griffith