by Dave Read.
The Koussevitsky Music Shed at Tanglewood is a holy place in the minds of legions of classical music lovers, sort of a chapel to the cathedral – Symphony Hall in Boston. Over the past decade or so, the BSO has instituted a way to ready the place for the returning congregants, inviting lay ministers Garrison Keillor and James Taylor to hold services that are certain to clear the dust from the rafters and get the aisle-wardens, parking-assistants, concessionaires, and ticket-takers into mid-season form.
Keillor, an annual Tanglewood attraction since 2000, can now be counted on to append nearly a whole show of audience sing alongs to his 2 hour live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion. And James Taylor, who has played 40+ times at Tanglewood since 1974, has taken to scheduling little series of shows, often with special guests. This year’s 3 night run included one with Taylor Swift, the young country-pop sensation who was named after him. She appeared late in the first set of the July 2 show for a duet on Fire and Rain, and sang her own hits Ours and Love Story in the 2nd set. Ms. Swift’s entrance caused an eruption of shrieks from the youngsters in the sold-out audience that reminded us of the reception afforded the youngsters from Liverpool when they were introduced by Ed Sullivan in 1964.
The Beatles get a mention at all James Taylor concerts, when he talks about his luck in getting signed by them to record his first album on their Apple label. The album included Carolina in My Mind with appearance by Paul McCartney and George Harrison, and Something in the Way She Moves, which inspired Harrison to write Something. This season’s version of Taylor’s band was missing singer Arnold McCuller but included long-time collaborator Larry Goldings on keyboards and Dean Parks on pedal steel, each of whom added serious and searing oomph to the proceedings.
We attended the 1st and 3rd show; together the series attracted somewhere in the neighborhood of 53,000 fans. Mr. Taylor is also on the program for the Gala 75 Anniversary concert July 14, which features Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, and Tanglewood Music Center Orchestras, plus special guests John Williams, Keith Lockhart, Andris Nelsons, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Yo-Yo Ma, and Peter Serkin.