An Evening with Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt Together On Stage

Lyle Lovett has done a great job in the last couple years leveraging his relationship with several different songwriters to create thoroughly enjoyable double bills. He put together a delightful series of solo acoustic evenings with former roommate Robert Earl Keene. During Covid Lovett and Chris Isaak offered one of the first so-called kitchen concerts, each in separate places but interacting live with each other. Their banter and quick wit was a welcome respite from the monotony of everyone being stuck at home. Once we were past Covid Isaak reconvened with Lovett for a series of full band shows. Separately John Hiatt recorded and toured with dobro wizard Jerry Douglas.

All of this culminated in a 30 date tour that ended the other night at Pechanga Casino, where Lovett and Hiatt shared a stage with only their guitars and each other. 

Both singer songwriters have a deep catalogue, with Hiatt’s just that much deeper. Indeed, Lovett was gracious in calling out the incredibly large and diverse group of artists who have covered Hiatt’s music, ranging from Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton to Bonnie Raitt and Aaron Neville. The evening took the familiar format of trading quips and songs. On occasion Hiatt would add guitar licks and harmonies to Lovett’s songs.

Stand out performances included “Have A Little Faith In Me” and “If I Had A Boat.” Both artists were effusive about fatherhood, with the eponymous song of Lyle Lovett’s album 12th of June being an especially poignant tribute to his five year old twins and his ancestors buried next to a creek in Texas.

Lovett explained how his kids were the source of other songs. “Pants Is Overrated” was prompted by the struggle to get his kids clothed one morning, each refusing that article of clothing. “Pig Meat Man” is about his vegetarian-leaning son’s infatuation with bacon.

For his part, Hiatt told of his excitement to see his granddaughter for the first time the next day, whom he had only seen by Facetime. Lovett asked what Hiatt would do if the granddaughter wasn’t ready to see him live. “I’ll go into the next room and Facetime her!” replied Hiatt. He then went on to play “Georgia Rae,” which he had written for his daughter when she was young, and now a new mother. He also told about writing “Train to Birmingham” when he was living with a house full of struggling songwriters in Nashville. He asked one, an Alabama native, how to write a country song. “Well, you need a train.” Hiatt had all the catalyst he needed.

Hiatt’s voice has grown raspy over the years and Lovett still has a fetching way of swallowing syllables in certain lyrics. Neither were slouching when it came to their superb guitar work. 

It was an emotionally warm, comfortable and satisfying evening of two songwriters doing what they love.

(photos by Brad Auerbach)

Lyle Lovett has announced new dates for January – March 2023.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.