Who loves Lucy? Landmark on Main Street does! On Friday, April 5, Lucy Kaplansky returned for her fourth appearance on the Landmark stage. Kaplansky had previously appeared solo, in a duo with Richard Shindell, and as part of the trio Red Horse with John Gorka and Eliza Gilkyson. All of her previous performances have been stellar, and this was no exception.
For Friday's performance, Kaplansky brought with along Duke Levine on electric guitar and mandolin, and his inclusion really added fullness to her sound. Kaplansky played, at various times, an acoustic guitar, Landmark’s Steinway piano, and a mandolin. Her new album, “Reunion,” was released recently and has already been nominated for several awards. She treated the audience to at least a half dozen tunes from the new disk, including the poignant title track “Reunion,” “Mother’s Day,” the Eliza Gilkyson song “The Beauty Way,” and what she called her latest angry song, “Gone Gone Gone” featuring Levine playing a rocking mandolin solo.
Kaplansky’s voice is beautiful – clear as bell – and she has a wonderful sense of melody. She shared an intimate connection with the audience – telling the very personal stories of family and loss that make up many of her songs. The title track of the new album, for example, was inspired by a family reunion years ago, and the realization now that she and her cousins are the oldest generation left. Some of Kaplansky’s songs are so sad on such a visceral level that audience members had tears streaming down their cheeks. “I’ll See You Again,” about her mother, was one such song.
It was almost a relief when Kaplansky played something emotionally lighter, such as “Hole in My Head” – a fun blues number with an impressive guitar solo by Levine that inspired spontaneous applause. Some other highlights were the gut-wrenchingly beautiful love song “Ten Year Night,” the Beatles’ “I’m Looking Through You,” and an amazing acapella version of a song written by her mathematician father about the number Pi. Another audience favorite was Kaplansky’s goose bump-inducing rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road,” complete with an audience sing along at the end.
Bringing Duke Levine for accompaniment was an inspired choice on Kaplansky’s part. His electric guitar work perfectly complemented Kaplansky’s acoustic sound. The two have been playing together for years, so their sound was tight and polished.
Kaplansky ended with an encore that included another Beatles’ tune, “Let It Be,” and then bade goodnight to an audience that had laughed and cried with her over the past two hours. It would not be surprising to see Kaplansky, in one incarnation or another, appearing at Landmark again in the future.
The next concert at Landmark is Dave Mason on April 13. Visit www.landmarkonmainstreet.org for more information about upcoming shows.