Lucinda Williams,
J.R.'s Dickson Street Ballroom,
Fayetteville, Arkansas
(5 November 1998)

Lucinda Williams wowed a sold-out audience that included family and friends at J.R.'s Dickson Street Ballroom in Fayetteville, Arkansas, to end an eight-week run. She made her intentions for the evening clear when she said, "We're gonna kick out the jams tonight!"

Lucinda's father and grandmother were in the crowd, along with a couple dozen more family members and friends. Early on she reminded the crowd that she had lived in Fayetteville in 1971 while attending the University of Arkansas. Acknowledging "so many old friends here tonight," she said "Fayetteville was a good training ground. You can't get any better than that, with all the great Southern writers here."

J.R.'s Ballroom surely employs the tallest and largest security men of any venue in the nation, but on this night they weren't needed. The jam-packed crowd was there to be mesmerized by Lucinda's lyrics and vocal style, and that's what happened.

She talked a little before each song, more so than she reportedly usually does, passing along interesting information. Introducing "Metal Firecracker," she said the title is "supposed to denote a tour bus." "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road," she said, "is about life as seen through a child's eyes, probably mine ... though I wasn't aware of it at the time I wrote it."

"Right In Time" is a song she was asked to sing on Good Morning, America, but she said she was asked to leave out the verse about lying on her back and moaning at the ceiling "because it was too heavy for a morning audience. But we left the verse in. We did it anyway, and no one got hurt."

She later said, "Everyone always says each crowd is the best one. But I can tell you we had great crowds in Asheville, North Carolina and St. Petersburg, Florida, but you have got 'em all beat."

Other songs included "Drunken Angel," "Greenville," "Still I Long For Your Kiss," "Can't Let Go" and "Change The Locks."

She introduced the eleventh song, "Joy," saying "This is the last song of the official set, but we'll come back and play more if you want us to. That's kind of the ritual." The extended version she and the band played of that song lasted nearly ten minutes. Brought back for an encore, she proceeded to sing another eight songs before calling it a night after a solid two hours of playing. Among the songs in this group were "Passionate Kisses," "Something About What Happens When We Talk" and "Jackson." The final three songs she did were all blues songs, concluding with Howlin' Wolf's "Come To Me, Baby."

The only songs shouted out by the crowd that were not performed this night were "Big Red Sun Blues" and "I Just Wanted To See You So Bad." The latter, according to Price, is about to be worked into the repertoire.

Her band consists of lead guitarist Kenny Vaughn, John Jackson on guitar, mando-guitar and dobro, Jim Lauderdale with harmony vocals, harmonica and rhythm guitar, Richard Price on bass, and Ireland's Fran Breen on drums. Lucinda said these guys are always "sweatin' blood" when they're onstage with her.

[ by Bill McCloud ]