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Photos and review: Mavis Staples and Robert Cray Band in Salt Lake City

First Published Jun 24 2014 11:04AM      Last Updated Jun 21 2014 03:31 pm

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mavis Staples opens for The Robert Cray Band at Red Butte Gardens, Friday June 20, 2014. Mavis Staples, a Soul and Gospel legend, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member, and Civil Rights Era icon, was only 15 in 1953 when her family group, the Staples Singers were signed with the small gospel label Vee-Jay Records and scored their first major hit “Uncloudy Day.”

Grammy-winning The Robert Cray Band and soul/gospel legend Mavis Staples co-headlined a packed show Friday night at Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City.

Staples

The 74-year-old Mavis walked out with an arm to steady her as she waved her cane toward the crowd.

Opening song » She pulled out a Staples Singers classic in "If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)."

Highlight » The band’s rendition of the Talking Heads’ "Slippery People" had lots of people dancing, and it was done well.

Crowd favorite » For her 14th and final song Mavis pulled out "I’ll Take You There," which had more than half the crowd on its feet and dancing.



Best quote » "It’s always good to see ya’ll! … Utah City, Utah!" Her geographical slip got a lot of good-natured laughs. Her guitar player Rick Holmstrom took her aside for a little clarification, to which she covered her mouth before approaching the mic to yell, "Salt Lake City!" a few times, taking it all in stride.

In the crowd » Harmonica player/band leader Harry Lee, Fox 13’s Scott McKane, Kerri Cronk and a posse of family and friends, Utah Jazz great Mark Eaton and KRCL on-air host Eugenie Hero Jaffe.

Encore » After 14 songs, there was no need for an encore. Mavis and her trio of fantastic backup singers did take a break during two instrumentals.

Low note » The only low notes were the ones Mavis digs down deep to sing in her signature raspy voice — and that’s a good thing.

Next up » The Robert Cray Band went second in the double-billing.

Cray

The band walked out and started playing over recorded music as they were introduced, which came off as a little strange as few people seemed to notice their arrival.

Opening song » From the 1986 "Bad Influence" album the band started with "Phone Booth," followed by "Poor Johnny" and "Right Next Door (Because of Me)" from the Grammy-winning "Strong Persuader" album.

Highlight » Generally speaking it was watching Robert Cray feel the music as his face contorted while cutting loose often throughout the band’s set.

Crowd favorite » It was either "Chicken in the Kitchen," "The Forecast (Calls for Pain)" or "(Won’t Be) Coming Home" — hard to peg that one down.

 

 

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