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Ann Hampton Callaway Puts Own Spin on Linda Ronstadt
Tuesday, November 19, 2019


She presented one of the great soundtracks of our lives for a woman who can no longer sing it herself.

And pop/jazz singer Ann Hampton Callaway ended up treating a sold-out audience at The Argyros Performing Arts Center to a joyous night of music as she sang through the songbook of Linda Ronstadt, a multi-faceted artist whose own voice was silenced by Parkinson’s Disease.

Callaway had a chorus behind her in her four-piece band, which included Ronstadt’s longtime guitar player and arranger Bob Mann. But she also had a chorus in front of her, as dozens of people in the packed concert hall sang along with her.

She opened Saturday’s nearly two-hour concert with Ronstadt’s breakout hit of 1967, which Ronstadt recorded with her band the Stone Poneys. Then she set a totally different mood with the bittersweet “Long, Long Time.”

The crowd jumped in from the beginning, dancing in their seats.

Ronstadt’s eclectic songbook, which ran the gamut from her explosive “When Will I Be Loved?” to the the rocking “That’ll Be the Day” was the perfect showcase for Callaway’s own range of styles.

But Callaway didn’t strive to mimic Ronstadt. She put her personal stamp on each song, offering a take that was familiar enough yet different enough to keep listeners focused on every note to see where she would take them.

“You want to have a performer who captures not just the artistry but the spirit,” noted Argyros Executive Director Casey Mott, as he described all the things Ronstadt and Callaway had in common, including their ardent love for the Great American Songbook. “And, while Linda Ronstadt may not be here in the flesh, she is very much in spirit.”

Callaway appeared on stage wearing boots that matched her colorful brocade jacket. She took great delight to singing to those sitting around small tables topped with wine in front of the stage.

Images on the screen behind the stage showed album covers as Callaway took the audience through Ronstadt’s hits, including “You’re No Good,” “Track of My Tears” and a couple big band numbers she  performed with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra.

“When you’re a kid, you think this next song is just a catchy tune with a good beat. But, when you listen to the words, you realize it’s a precursor to the Me, Too Movement,” she said as she threw herself into “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me.”

Ronstadt was good at taking other people’s songs and putting her own spin on them, she added, as she segued into Roy Orbison’s “Blue Bayou.”

Just for fun, Callaway drew on her jazz improv skills, enlisting the audience’s help in writing a song about a one-night stand with a building contractor at Whiskey Jacques in Ketchum. It got a lot of laughs. Then it was back to Linda.

Ronstadt’s personal favorite, she noted, she noted, was Anna McGarrigle’s “Heart Like a Wheel,” which describes how a heart that is bent can’t be mended.

But it was “Desperado” Callaway closed with, a haunting song of longing revolving around someone who wants only what he can’t get.

The concert, staged just shy of the Argyros’ one-year anniversary, was yet another example of the diverse offerings in The Argyros Presents series. It’s offered Sun Valley audiences things they likely would not have seen otherwise, along with a few concerts like this one that clearly tapped into the audience’s penchant for music they enjoyed in their youth.

“The year has gone by in a flash,” said Margaret Hamamoto, development director for The Argyros. “And we’re just thrilled to see a sell-out crowd in the middle of slack.”


Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood will expand on the fun of “Whose Line Is it?” as they treat audiences to a rousing night of laughter in “Scared Scriptless” on Nov. 30.

Three Dog Night will usher in the New Year with “Joy to the World” on Dec. 31.

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