Home Live Review Live Review: Emmylou Harris @ The Hamilton Live — 12/3/23

Live Review: Emmylou Harris @ The Hamilton Live — 12/3/23

Live Review: Emmylou Harris @ The Hamilton Live — 12/3/23
Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell perform at The Hamilton Live in DC on Dec. 3, 2023. (Photo by Mark Raker)

An Intimate Performance Benefiting Bonaparte’s Retreat
Words by Dan Rozman
Photos by Mark Raker

The legendary Emmylou Harris recently returned to The Hamilton Live in DC for a magical sold-out charity concert benefiting her animal rescue Bonaparte’s Retreat. The iconic venue, with its pristine acoustics and top-notch food and drink, was the perfect setting for this special night.

Accompanied by fellow Grammy winner Rodney Crowell on guitar and nominee Eamon McLoughlin on mandolin and fiddle, Harris treated the enthusiastic audience to almost two hours of music and stories from her prolific career at The Hamilton Live on Dec. 3. The intimacy of The Hamilton Live let Harris’s still vocals shine, whether on aching ballads or uptempo honky-tonk numbers. Her bandmates provided gorgeous solos, harmonies, and instrumental fills that showed why this trio has earned so many accolades.

The setlist traversed Harris’s decades of music, including beloved songs she wrote and gems penned by friends like Crowell. Standouts included a swooning “Love Hurts,” a playful “Bluebird Wine” with McLoughlin’s lilting mandolin, and a poignant “Evangeline” which let Harris display the breathtaking expressive power of her voice.

Stream “Evangeline” by Emmylou Harris on YouTube:

Crowell took the lead on a tender “If I Could Only Win Your Love” while Harris and McLoughlin added gentle harmonies.

One of the most powerful moments came with “You Can’t Say We Didn’t Try,” a song Harris said she felt fitting for these complex times. Its bittersweet lyrics and rich instrumentation resonated with the audience.

Stream “You Can’t Say We Didn’t Try” by Emmylous Harris and Rodney Crowell on YouTube:

Lighter fare came with the rollicking “Sin City” and a foot-stomping “Leaving Louisiana” that had the crowd dancing in their seats.

Harris shared endearing stories about all-night songwriting sessions at John Starling’s house, and how she started to collaborate with Crowell. The camaraderie between the three musicians was evident in their playful onstage banter and intuitive musical interplay.

After the soulful main set, the band finished with a two-song encore of “Till I Gain Control Again” and ended with Harris’s iconic “Boulder to Birmingham.” The poignant emotion in her vocals was a stellar capstone to a remarkable evening.

Through it all, Harris kept bringing the focus back to the cause that inspired this special night — her charity Bonaparte’s Retreat. Founded in 2004 after the death of Harris’ beloved rescue dog and constant companion Bonaparte, the Nashville-based nonprofit has rescued over 7,000 dogs from euthanasia and placed them in forever homes. Bonaparte’s Retreat holds a special place in Harris’s heart. The money raised helps to further their life-saving mission.

As they say, “Never miss a Sunday show.” It was a privilege to witness such an iconic songwriter return to the intimate Hamilton Live, surrounded by first-rate musicians and fans who know every word of her extensive catalog. Though Harris’s prowess as a vocalist and song interpreter at 76 years old defies belief, talent like hers is truly timeless. We hope she returns soon to give our city another magical evening.


Love Hurts
Bluebird Wine
If I Could Only Win Your Love
You Can’t Say We Didn’t Try
Red Dirt Girl
The Rock of My Soul
Just Pleasing You
If I Needed You
Pancho & Lefty
The Weight of The World
Sin City
It Ain’t Over Yet
Leaving Louisiana
I Ain’t Living Long Like This
Old Yellow Mountain

Till I Gain Control Again
Boulder To Birmingham

Certain aspects of the research and/or drafting for this piece may have employed AI.

Here are some photos of Emmylou Harris performing at The Hamilton Live with her bandmates and friends on Dec. 3, 2023. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Mark Raker.



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