Concert Reviews

In this special concert interview, the veteran musician Grace Pettis takes a little time to review three performances that have made a difference to her.

Jupiter Index: Which three concerts/performances have you attended that moved you for the musical ability and skill of the artist/ or band? What was it about the show that still stays with you?

Grace Pettis: When I first moved to Austin, I heard Ruthie Foster sing at Blue Rock Studio. I was 18 or 19, just a freshman in college and new to the Austin scene. Billy and Dodee Crockett, who run Blue Rock Studio, took a shine to me and let me volunteer and sell CDs for the artists, as a way of getting me into the room to hear the acts that came through. I couldn't have afforded the ticket. From the moment Ruthie Foster opened her mouth, I was spellbound. I remember she sang the Terri Hendrix song, "Hole in My Pocket," and "Phenomenal Woman." That concert was pivotal for me. Hearing Ruthie sing to the rafters and the back of the room with that kind of strength and soul moved me in a way that nothing really has since. She didn't need a microphone. She didn't need a band. It was like she had a direct line to God or something.

When I was 13 or so, I heard Bonnie Raitt perform at Chastain Park. It was my second concert ever- my first was the Backstreet Boys, like any respectable pre-teen white girl back then. But that one didn't stay with me. Bonnie Raitt was and is such a badass. It was a revelatory experience. 13-year-old me longed to be that confident and cool. And Bonnie Raitt has this swagger about her that I've spent my whole adult life trying to find in myself. She's crazy beautiful but there's nothing girlish or silly about her sex appeal. She's all woman and she owns the stage.

A few years ago I got to see Lauryn Hill (finally) play at ACL in Austin. It was everything I hoped it would be. I've been obsessed with Lauryn Hill since I was a kid. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was my first musical purchase, along with Destiny's Child- The Writing's on the Wall. I've always thought Lauryn Hill was one of the most talented people alive. She produced, she sang, she rapped, and she wrote those incredible songs. At a time when women weren't really doing all of that. I've always considered The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill to be a perfect record. Lauryn Hill is a major, primary influence. She redefined what a "girl musician" could be for teenage me. So seeing her live, finally, was almost a spiritual experience. She performed all the hits from that album and made them new with updated arrangements and fresh vocal runs. It was incredible. She's a genius.

by G.M. Burns