Concert Review: The Tony Furtado Band

WC went to his first Boise concert Wednesday night. WC has seen Tony Furtado three times before, and wasn’t about to pass on a chance to see him again. Furtado is a national champion banjo player and a superb slide guitar player, as well. (These are iPhone photos; WC apologizes for the poor quality.)

Tony Furtado on Slide Guitar

Tony Furtado on Slide Guitar

Over the course of the evening, backed by Sam on acoustic bass and Russ on percussion, Furtado played old favorites, including White Horse and his brilliant Portlandia, as well as a nice selection of cuts from his new album, The Bell. This was the first time WC had seen Furtado with a backing band; all the earlier shows were solos or the excellent show with Peter Mulvey a couple of years ago. It has to be difficult to back a music wizard, but Sam and Russ were great, and Furtado gave them both a chance or two to show their chops.

Tony, Russ and Sam, left to right

Tony, Russ and Sam, left to right

This was also WC’s first concert at the VAC, the Visual Arts Collective, in Garden City. It’s certainly a different venue than the Pickle Barrel at Pioneer Park or even The Loon in Fairbanks. And the crowd – surprisingly thin for someone as well known as Furtado – was an issue. It’s common enough for folks to talk in the back of the hall during the show; this was the first time WC had seen folks stand up in front and talk. And the usual suspects were up in front: the hippie ingenue, doing interpretive dance; the aging ‘Nam vet standing still, waving his arms around; and about a half a dozen folks all trying to video the whole show on their cell phones. Maybe concert protocols are different in Boise. In Fairbanks, it would have been crass and rude.

Furtado closed the show, as he has closed all of his shows WC has seen, by going acoustic, coming out to the lip of the stage, and inviting the audience to join him.

Furtado goes acoustic for a moving cover of Woody Guthrie's "I Ain't Got No Home"

Furtado goes acoustic for a moving cover of Woody Guthrie’s “I Ain’t Got No Home”

The choice of the Guthrie standard, with the audience singing along, was especially moving when you consider the plight of the Syrian refugees throughout eastern and middle Europe.

A fine closing to an excellent show. Thanks, Tony, for a terrific evening. And Trudy Heffernan says, “Hi!”