A full house at D.A.R. Constitution Hall Saturday night was privy to a concert by two quite different but equally talented and sincere singer-songwriters - Randy Newman and Jonathan Edwards.
Newman's unique and totally original music combines strains of boogie, jazz, ragtime and blues while his lyrics are provocatively subtle. No one escapes Newman's humorous persecution, for the sings of rednecks, whites, blacks, Chinese, short people and even a fat boy - you name it, everyone is there somewhere.
He gave a well-balanced performance, interspersing gentle but powerful ballads with repetitive upbeat numbers which almost seem to be sophisticated nursery rhymes. Although aware of the audience as he played the piano and sang, Newman could have been sitting in a hazy, smoke-filled bar in the Village for all his nonchalance and ease.
But there's a stage personality in Newman, too. When he was finished, he bowed to the standing ovation, then pretended he couldn't find an opening in the curtain to get off stage. Lucky for the audience that he was "forced to give two encores" which included the popular "Sail Away" most recognized by Linda Ronstadt's version on her "Don't Cry Now" album.
On any other bill, Jonathan Edwards could easily have been the headliner with his brand of mellow, bittersweet folk rock, optimistic tone and searching lyrics. He alternated between the old favorites that made him so popular, like "Sunshine" and "Lady," and new melodies such as "Little Hands," a song he wrote to celebrate the birth of his baby daughter, Grace. When introducing Grace's song, Edwards, in cowboy attire, said, "It was only natural."
Natural suited the entire concert - natural, heart-warming and thought-provoking.