Article updated July 6, 2018 by Dave Read
Something about James Taylor’s Fourth of July concert at Tanglewood felt low-key, but that’s in reference to a dozen or so such, which always rank among the most exciting shows of the year. Our expectations may have been out of whack because his July 4, 2008 show exploded into a celebration of his sixtieth birthday. Maybe now that the ¾ century mark is within shouting distance, seventy is not so big a deal?
My reading of the show doesn’t extend to the usual aspects, such as the favorites-filled setlist of 25 songs, the 218 autographs from the lip of the stage during intermission, nor the revival-like 3 song encore when everybody got into the act, nor his awesome band. I thought he ceded primacy to Mike Landau on Steamroller, which his ace guitarist did not squander, before cutting loose with his own axe-indulgence during a coda that would not quit.
The stagecraft of James Taylor
James Taylor is a master of stagecraft, that aspect of a musician’s duty to an audience that cannot help but color his virtuosity and singing. Stagecraft, a.k.a. patter, is the golden thread a singer weaves through a performance. James Taylor is so good at it sometimes that it steals the show; tonight it was spot-on, meaning that I wouldn’t have noticed it, except that I had an eye out for it.
James Taylor’s Lawn Nation at Tanglewood
The Fourth of July James Taylor concert at Tanglewood is a “bucket list” sort of event; it is a musical performance with social implications elbowing their way to the fore. It is a generational thing, with an abundance of kids running around and no shortage of patrons for whom the metaphorical bucket is the last thing they want to be thinking about. Not annual, but since Mr. Taylor built a house near October Mountain seventeen years ago, there has been at least one James Taylor Tanglewood show almost every year.
Here are snapshots of Lawn Nation, as James Taylor likes to call his Tanglewood audience. The images were made around half past six, July 4, 2018.
2018 Tanglewood schedule
The 2018 Tanglewood schedulefeatures a season-long celebration of the centennial of Leonard’s Bernstein’s birth, culminating in the Aug. 25 Bernstein Centennial Celebration hosted by Audra McDonald, with Maestro Andris Nelsons, four guest conductors and soloists Yo-Yo Ma, Midori, and others.
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Tanglewood tickets and box office information
Tickets for the 2018 Tanglewood season available through Tanglewood’s website, www.tanglewood.org, SymphonyCharge at 888-266-1200, and at the Symphony Hall Box Office at 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston MA.
Getting around the Tanglewood campus
The Tanglewood campus, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Music Center comprises several hundred acres in the towns of Lenox and Stockbridge. It is the location of the Koussevitsky Music Shed and Ozawa Hall, where hundreds of thousands attend concerts and a variety of events, including picnics. We always advise new visitors to arrive early and take their daily walking exercise wandering the beautiful Tanglewood grounds. This dynamic map of the Tanglewood grounds includes photos and information for such points of interest as Aaron Copland Library, Highwood Manor House, The Glass House, and The Lion’s Gate.