The rain held-off for Patty Griffin & Mavis Staples on the beautiful lawn of The Oregon Zoo. This was fortuitous for two reasons: the obvious one being that we were not soaked, as was a distinct possibility earlier in the day. The second reason was, the threat of bad weather was enough to thin the crowd gathered in the standing-room only section at the base of the stage. This provided an excellent viewing experience for the marathon three-act show.
First up was Amy Helm and the Handsome Strangers. Amy Helm is the daughter of the late Levon Helm, drummer for The Band. The Handsome Strangers were her two band-mates. Helm possesses a clear, clean Southern voice. I couldn't help but wish for a duet between her and Patty Griffin, whose voice is equally fantastic, but has a weathered character. The contrast would have been something to behold.
Next was Patty Griffin. Her set was heavy with Gospel songs, each more stunning than the last. It is shows like these which reinforce my belief that music is quite similar to meditation and prayer
Mavis Staples was last. Her set was straight out of the Civil Rights Movement, songs of defiance, justice and freedom. She ended it with a thundering audience-participatory version of "I'll Take You There" which had me floating.
Mavis announced that not only do the three women plan to reassemble next year, but they also want to produce a record together. I for one am filled with anticipation even now.