Seeing a concert at the Prospect Park Bandshell is a surefire good way to spend a summer night. Seeing Lyle Lovett close out the 2012 Celebrate Brooklyn season on August 11 was something special, and WFUV and NPR Music were there to record the concert.
Whether he's backed by his Large Band or (in this case) his Acoustic Group, Lyle always surrounds himself with superb musicians. The core at Celebrate Brooklyn was a string quartet, comprised of a couple of youngsters - Keith Sewell on guitar and mandolin and Luke Bulla on violin - and a couple of longtime Lyle cohorts - John Hagen on cello and Viktor Krauss on bass - plus the legendary Russ Kunkel on drums. Like Lyle, they wore charcoal gray suits and ties and looked mighty sharp.
Lyle was classy, witty, and generous, giving his sidemen a chance to shine and bringing Arnold McCulloch, Aoife O'Donovan (who opened the evening with her band) and Kat Edmondson onstage for vocal turns. The evening was a mix-and-match of various combinations of three, four, or more musicians, and the set list, while drawing on his most recent CD, "Release Me, included plenty of faves from throughout his career. As always, there was barely a genre - country, folk, blues, swing, bluegrass - left untouched. The last few numbers - "That's Right You're Not From Texas," "White Freight Liner Blues" and the encore, "Can't Resist It" - showed what a juggernaut this group can be. He's been at this for nigh on 30 years, and Lyle remains at the top of his game.