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(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) Emmylou Harris sings with her band as she kicks off the Red Butte Concert Series in Salt Lake City Tuesday, June 3, 2014.
Photos: Emmylou Harris kicks off Red Butte summer concert series
First Published Jun 04 2014 08:00 am • Last Updated Jun 04 2014 02:02 pm

Emmylou Harris, one of the most recognizable voices in music, opened the 2014 Red Butte Concert series on Tuesday night, offering up nearly two hours of country and folk ballads.

Opening song » Dressed in a black and white print skirt, and her silver hair flowing the June breeze, Harris walked on stage and quickly announced her presence with "Here I Am" from her 20th studio album "Stumble Into Grace."

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Highlight » Harris’ doesn’t just sing a song, she tells a story, introducing fans to the people who have influenced her life and musical career. From "My Name is Emmett Till," the African American teenager who in the 1950s was murdered in racially charged Mississippi; to "Darlin’ Kate" a tribute to friend and songwriting partner Kate McGarrigle, who died of cancer. From "The Road" for Gram Parsons, whom Harris credits for bringing her into country music; and "Home Sweet Home" for the Catholic priest who works with the homeless in Nashville. "He’s a hero of mine," she said.

Crowd favorite » Harris’ 1982 hit "Born to Run" had the crowd on its feet and dancing.

Best quote » "Thanks for coming," Harris said. "It would have been embarrassing if no one had showed up."

In the crowd » Baby boomers and old hippies love Harris. This is the third time she has sold out the Red Butte concert stage.

Encore » After a 22-song set, Harris and her band returned to the stage for just one song: "Boulder to Birmingham." The abbreviated encore may have been due to the chilly night air. Harris stopped at one point in the show to put on a sweater. "I was going to tough it out, but I’m too old for that," she said.

Low note » Opening acts are supposed to warm up the crowd and get them excited for the headliner. Denver-based singer Nathaniel Rateliff didn’t deliver. His sparsely arranged songs were quiet and sounded mumbled at times. His indie/folk sound might be better in a small bar (he performs at Urban Lounge in August) than this outdoor venue.

Next up » R&B and soul musician Janelle Monae headlines Sunday, June 8.

kathys@sltrib.com


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