Bonnie Raitt won her first four Grammies and enjoyed her first Top 10 hit since she last visited our area, but it hardly mattered for she has been selling out Wolf Trap for several summers now. "You people have known all along," she told the sold-out Wolf Trap crowd last night, "so this feels like home." Decked out in a ruffled white blouse, a purple mini-dress and black cowboy boots, the 40-year-old Raitt delivered the same solid show (with many of the same songs and same musicians) that she's been delivering for years.
In addition to songs from last year's breakthrough album, "Nick of Time," Raitt emphasized numbers from her recent CD anthology, "The Bonnie Raitt Collection." She introduced her three-song acoustic mini-set by saying, "Close your eyes and It's the Cellar Door again." She dedicated Paul Seibel's vintage folk-blues, "Louise," to Damian Einstein, the beleaguered WHFS disc jockey who championed her music when most deejays wouldn't. Raitt's slide guitar lead a lengthy blues-rock jam on "Willya Wontcha," and she switched to piano for a tenderly personal reading of the song "Nick of Time."
Raitt personally introduced the middle set by Charles Brown, extolling him as a great bluesman whose wider recognition is long overdue. Dressed in a black sequined tux, the 67-year-old pianist lived up to her accolades, crooning his smooth West Coast blues hits, like the 1946 "Drifting Blues," in a big, seductive voice and filling the spaces with flashy, fluid piano runs. Brown returned to sing an encore duet with Raitt on "Just in Case We Both Are Wrong" and to push her band with his syncopated chords.
In the opening set, the Jeff Healey Band revived the blues-rock power trio format of the 1967 Cream. Healey, a 23-year-old Canadian, played the guitar in his lap, fingering the frets with his left hand like a pianist. Despite his unusual technique, he sounded like a talented but mainstream Eric Clapton heir. Much of the band's power came from Joe Rockman, whose aggressively melodic bass lines recalled Jack Bruce. The band was at its best the few times it got a real melody to chew on, as with its first hit, John Hiatt's "Angel Eyes," or the new single, George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."
All three acts appear Sunday at the Merriweather Post Pavilion.