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The Indigo Girls Opened the Book On Their Back Catalog in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

The Indigo Girls performed June 11th and 12th, 2023 at the revered Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. We had the pleasure of attending the second night where the ladies presented a stellar set of the classics along with some deep cuts from their extensive catalog. One of the first things that struck us before the duo took the stage was a backdrop of a sizable shelf containing a large assortment of banned books. Thus, they made a subtle yet dramatic and important statement during a show where the music did most of the talking.

The Indigo Girls had a wall of banned books as their backdrop in Nashville.

As the story goes, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers met in elementary school and began performing together as high school students in Decatur, Georgia. While at Emory University they choose the name the Indigo Girls. They got their first major record deal back in 1988. From there they became the popular well-respected folk-rock band that we know today and who have sold over 15 million records while maintaining a fervent following.

Although there were a lot of fan favorites, the Indigo Girls presented some new material including "Howl at the Moon" and "Shit Kickin'" early on. These tunes from Look Long their 16th studio album is being described as an origin story that looks back at their personal upbringings. "Shit Kickin'" is a nuanced love letter to Ray's heritage. "I'm a little bit left of the 'salt of the earth' / That's alright, I'll prove my worth," she sings. Since they are from the south, we got plenty of "thanks y'all" between songs.

Amy and Emily were still sounding fine at the Ryman.

Amy and Emily used an array of guitars during their set to add different tones to their tunes. Ray also played mandolin at times. They were backed by a talented team of musicians with a number of them being multi-instrumentalists. The band added more textures such as accordion, banjo, and fiddle to the ladies' insightful muse. On Monday, the sound was well mixed so that you could clearly hear these nuances. It was a crisp, clean yet energized show of classics.

Hits such as "Least Complicated" had fans clapping along as did other well-known tunes. "Tried to be True" went way back into their catalog. We were thrilled to hear our favorites from the Shaming of the Sun album - the dynamic "Shed Your Skin" and "Get Out The Map" flowing into "Shame On You" featuring members from Larkin Poe. They finished up with "Galileo" which had everyone singing along. Interestingly, they started the encore with "Look Long" another new song. "Tether" was dedicated to the Tennessee 3 and last but not least fan fave "Closer to Fine" which of course left everyone leaving the Ryman feeling very fine.

The Indigo Girls - Amy Ray and Emily Saliers.

"We joke about being old, but what is old when it comes to music? We're still a bar band at heart," says Saliers. "We are so inspired by younger artists and while our lyrics and writing approach may change, our passion for music feels the same as it did when we were 25-years-old." We might also add that the Indigo Girls have been penning intelligent lyrics for a long time. Their words still ring true and speaking truths that people may or may not want to consider just like those banned books that towered over the band at the Ryman.

Aaron Lee Tasjan and Larkin Poe opened for the Indigo Girls respectively on Sunday and Monday. Rebecca and Megan Lovell of Larkin Poe are Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist sisters creating their own brand of Roots Rock 'n' Roll. They hail from Atlanta but are currently living in Nashville. However, they spend quite a bit of time on the road winning new followers along the way.

Larkin Poe is comprised of by sisters Rebecca Lovell and Megan Lovell.

Based on the reaction at the Ryman, the siblings gained more fans with a set of bold blues-based rock. They mentioned listening and being inspired by bluegrass, gospel and the Indigo Girls but on the 12th they focused on old time blues with songs influenced by Son House, Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Robert Johnson. Both girls knew their way around a guitar. Their tunes were packed with sizzling solos backed by a riveting rhythm section with "Preachin' Blues" and "Bad Spell" being high points during their opening slot.

INDIGO GIRLS SETLIST: Howl at the Moon | Least Complicated | Shit Kickin' | Power of Two | Yield | Change My Heart | Moment of Forgiveness | Something Real | Fugitive | Trouble | Second Time Around | Virginia Woolf | Shed Your Skin | Lay My Head Down | Romeo and Juliet | Tried to Be True | Free in You | Go | Get Out the Map | Shame on You | Galileo | Encore | Look Long | Tether | Closer to Fine

Larkin Poe paid homage to the originators of the Blues at the Ryman.

Related Links: For more information on the INDIGO GIRLS and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Indigo Girls | The Indigo Girls Feel Right at Home in New Jersey | Larkin Poe | Ryman Auditorium


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