Queer Theory and I recently decided to relive our teen years by heading out to Jonathan Edwards Winery and seeing Joan Osborne in concert — only when we were actually teens we went to Toad’s Place instead of a winery. This is a theme of my posts lately but I’m going to say it again: this place is beautiful! Even if Joan Osborne’s voice had gone the way of Jon Bon Jovi’s (have you heard that dude lately?) it still would have been a great concert.
The winery sets up a tent on the lawn, and concert goers bring blankets and chairs to enjoy the music while surrounded by grapevines, stone walls, and (in this case) old white people and Lesbarus (think a Subaru come to life). The weather was perfect and the intimate setting meant that there wasn’t really a bad seat in the house.
We weren’t really sure if the old white people were there because they actually like Joan Osborne or if it was just because that is who goes to concerts at vineyards in the middle of nowhere, but they seemed to be pretty into it. There were a few people (Lesbarus) who were clearly hold overs from the Lilith Fair days, an obnoxious Grateful Dead fan, and us (who, I guess, are technically hold overs from Lilith Fair days as well).
Let’s talk about the Dead Head for a minute. Apparently Osborne got a a gig as the chick singer for The Dead and has toured with Phil Lesch and Friends. So now she has a bit of a Dead Head following. One of those guys (who sounded more like Peter Griffin than Jerry Garcia) showed up, and was a source of fascination for Queer Theory and I long before the show started. He was alone, but wouldn’t shut up, and went through no less than three bottles of wine. By the time Joan Osborne came out he was all but heckling her. The old white people were incensed!
(I didn’t get great video at our winery, so here’s a video of Brokedown Palace at City Winery in NYC.)
Despite the Dead Head, Joan Osborne was great. She’s one of those artists that’s been quietly making a career for herself year after year. From albums of covers to a Grammy nominated blues album, she just keeps going. Her gravelly voice just gets better with age.
She did a stripped down set: just her, a guitar, and piano player. She did a smattering of old songs, including “St. Teresa” and “Spiderweb”, along with completely new material, and some classic covers like “Tupelo Honey”, “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone”, and did “To Make You Feel My Love” for her encore. (I like her version better than Dylan’s, Adele’s, and Garth Brooks’.)
Queer Theory and I stuck around long enough to watch the staff argue with the drunk Dead Head about his ability to drive home, and then hopped on line to meet to Joan Osborne. While in line we learned from the guys behind us that they had ended up calling the police on him. Osborne had run out of discs to sign but she was nice enough to take a picture with Queer Theory anyway, and have a brief chat with us about how amazingly beautiful the setting was.
But the best surprise was yet to come. Frankly, it’s a wonder we weren’t run down in the street because as we wandered through the field, across the road, and back to the (actual) Subaru, we were staring up at the stars. Way out in North Stonington the light pollution is low, and the stars were out in full force. It was one of those moments when you suddenly realize what people are talking about when they go on about a sky full of stars.
Jonathan Edwards Winery has a whole summer music series, and I can’t recommend it enough. Whether you’re familiar with the artists or not, it really is just a beautiful setting to see music in.