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Photograph: David McClisterEmmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell + Richard Thompson Electric Trio | Concert preview

Country legends reunite and hit the road with a guitar virtuoso.

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When Gram Parsons plucked struggling folk singer Emmylou Harris out of obscurity, no one could have predicted what a long and storied career she would have. It’s helped that Harris’s second greatest gift, aside from her beautiful voice, has been an eye and ear for fresh talent, which in a way started when she agreed to team with Parsons. Yet it began in earnest with her 1975 de facto debut, Pieces of the Sky, which opens with “Bluebird Wine,” a song by then-unknown songwriter Rodney Crowell.

That same year, Crowell was enlisted to sing and play guitar in her Hot Band, serving until the end of 1977, at which point he launched a solo career that would soon rival Harris’s as a member of country music’s top tier. Needless to say, as understated as the disc may be, their new duets album, Old Yellow Moon, is a big deal—a 30-odd-years-in-the-making reunion of these old friends and longtime peers. The shared history and songbooks of these two greats ensures a deep well of material from which to draw on this tour.

Of course, the pair has set a high bar for itself by hitting the road with co-headliner and all around ringer Richard Thompson. True guitar virtuosos are rare enough, but Thompson’s playing comes with such ease, restraint and invention that it leaves you slack-jawed. The fact that he is also an excellent writer and great singer—gifts on strong display with his latest, Electric—as well as a consummate showman brands him one of rock’s few sure things.

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