Bucknell University will celebrate its Homecoming and treat the surrounding community to some Southern California country-rock, as Americana music legends Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell will take the stage together, Oct. 26 at the Weis Center for the Performing Arts.
The legendary musicians are touring in support of their collaborative album, “Old Yellow Moon,” which was released on Nonesuch Records in February. The album is the first official collaboration from the duo since Crowell joined Harris’ Hot Band as guitarist and harmony singer in 1975. In a recent interview, Crowell added, “The record’s overall tone calls to mind that Southern California blend of country music and rock and roll pioneered by Linda Ronstadt, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons and, of course, Emmylou and the Hot Band.”
A 12-time Grammy winner, Harris has recorded more than 25 albums in her career, and has collaborated with countless fellow artists, including Crowell, Parsons, Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, John Denver, Willie Nelson and Neil Young. In 1987, Harris won a Grammy for her collaboration with Ronstadt and Parton on the album “Trio,” winning the award for best country performance by a duo or group with Vocal. Harris was recognized for her extraordinary career and contributions to music in 2008, earning an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Crowell first made his mark as a songwriter, arriving in Nashville, Tenn., in 1972. After Harris recorded one of Crowell’s songs, the two met, at which time, Crowell sat in with Harris’ band. In early January 1975, Harris asked Crowell to play rhythm guitar in her backing band, The Hot Band. In time, Crowell would experience his first taste of songwriting success, penning such hits as 1979’s “An American Dream” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and “Shame on the Moon,” a top-five pop hit for Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band in 1982.
A multi-Grammy Award winner, Crowell has had songs recorded by several well-known artists, including Johnny Cash, Norah Jones, Etta James, the Grateful Dead and many others. His 1988 breakthrough album “Diamonds and Dirt” yielded five No.1 country singles and also won him a Grammy Award for the song, “After All This Time.” Crowell continued that success into the 1990s with more popular releases, including 1989’s “Keys to the Highway” and “Life is Messy” in 1992. In 2006, Crowell was honored with an Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award for songwriting.
Produced by Brian Ahern, “Old Yellow Moon” includes 12 tracks, featuring four songs written by Crowell as well as interpretations of songs such as Hank DeVito’s “Hanging Up My Heart,” Roger Miller’s “Invitation to the Blues,” and Allen Reynolds’ “Dreaming My Dreams,” among others. In addition to Harris and Crowell, the album of duets also features world-renowned musicians, including Stuart Duncan, Vince Gill and Bill Payne, as well as members of the original Hot Band.
“ ‘Old Yellow Moon’ is an album that’s smart from top to bottom,” said the Chicago Tribune. “Harris and Crowell are hard-wired for good taste and seem constitutionally incapable of making a weak record.”
In a February interview with the Tennessean, Crowell described the musical bond he and Harris formed, one that has stood the test of time.
“We found our voice so many years ago,” he said. “There’s a certain tone we can get together. She’s one of music’s great voices, and I’m a pretty good singer too. You get us together, in the right key with the right melody and we can make it sizzle. There’s that extra bit of tonality.”
Since meeting nearly 40 years ago, Harris and Crowell have formed a friendship outside of music as well, something Harris knew from the start.
“Immediately with Rodney, that chemistry and energy was there,” she said. “From the beginning, it was obvious that we’d be friends and cohorts and collaborators.”