Lampedusa is a concert tour presenting some of the country's most legendary singer/songwriters in an intimate setting. There were eight concerts scheduled in the sophomore year of the series sponsored by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) benefiting the world’s refugees. Each location showcased the talent of a wide range of performers unique to each venue.
Tucson's Fox Theatre was fortunate to be one of the settings for this rare concert extravaganza on Oct. 12. The performers shared their thoughts and feelings about the state of refugees during the two-hour show and the performances were some of the most heartfelt to hit any stage.
After a group performance of Tom Petty’s “Refugee,” Patty Griffin set the tone for the evening when she said, “there are about 65 million people that have been displaced all over the globe in the last few years. That’s more people than after WWII. It’s that big of a job that we have to do. We need to make sure that people are treated fairly and compassionately. It’s one of the biggest disasters over many of our lifetimes.”
Steve Earle, introduced the first solo artist of the evening when he said, “when I arrive at the pearly gates and present my references, it will be one page. It will say that Steve Earle has had six songs recorded by Joan Baez.” Baez accompanied herself on guitar as she sang, ”There but For Fortune.” Her voice had a richer texture and depth than ever before. When she finished her song, the applause was deafening as she handed the baton to James McMurtry
McMurtry reminded the crowd that he once lived in Tucson in the past. “I was enrolled at the University of Arizona. I majored in beer.” He performed the first of his brilliant epic songs about the American human condition, “Carlile’s Haul.”
Griffin introduced her song “250,000 Miles” by saying, “most refugees spend 17 years getting out of being a refugee. That is an entire young lifetime. One of the things that the JRS does is, it brings education to refugees. 250,000 miles is approximately the distance from the earth to the moon representing the distance that many refugees get displaced from their homes.”
Griffin's special guest of the night, David Pulkingham, proved himself a master guitarist and percussionist throughout the show accompanying all of the artists.
Baez’s song for “45” was the wittiest song of the night. The title of the song was “Finally and Forever Obsolete” but it is the unofficial title. She remarked after she finished the song, “it makes me feel better every time I sing it.”
Earle was probably the most verbose, self-revealing and witty entertainers of the evening. He shared the experience that led him to write the classic "Hometown Blues" revealing a wild hitchiking journey.
"...I thought the only way you could get from Texas to Tennessee was to hitchhike until I was 27-years old. When I went home for a wedding or funeral or Christmas, I hitchhiked up there. So I thought I had to hitchhike back. I was pretty good at it. One time I hitchhiked from Jackson, Tennessee to Jacksonville, Texas in one ride over seven hours. It was Christmas time and I was going home. Eighteen-wheelers didn’t pick you up that much. It was Volkswagens that picked you up... I was let off at the Schertz exit. My parents had moved to San Antonio. At least this time, they told me. I came home one time and I hadn’t called. Phone calls were a dime and I didn’t have that. I knocked on the door and this stranger answered the door. A big square-headed cowboy. No one in Schertz, Texas remembered me except the police. In the Christmas spirit, however, they gave me a place to stay. After extracting a small ransom from my father, I did make it home for Christmas Eve. I got this song out of the experience, but I don’t think it was worth it.” The song was the “Hometown Blues.”
The Mastersons had one of the best songs of the night. They had arrived in Tucson a day early and indulged in the local food. They returned to their hotel room and wrote a song. They introduced the song by saying, “It’s hard for people to evolve in this constant air of fear that is surrounding us.” The song was “In the Name of God.”
Patty Griffin’s song, “Standing,” was the best gospel revival song of the evening that had the performers and the fans joining in and singing. There were many great moments during the show. This is the kind of tour that one could enjoy a different show at every stop. For a complete set list, please click here.
AXS is ticketing the last show on the tour in Dallas, for information on tickets, please click here.