By Dan Rozman Pictures by Mark Raker

James Taylor returned with his stellar All-Star Band to the renowned Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts on September 7th, for the first of three sold-out shows at the historic Virginia venue. As the only National Park dedicated to the performing arts, Wolf Trap is a special place to take in a concert.

The rain cleared just in time for the multigenerational crowd of devoted fans and first-timers alike to enjoy a night of Taylor’s timeless music and heartfelt stories. Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts, located in Wolf Trap National Park, is operated through a public/private partnership between the National Park Service and the non-profit Wolf Trap Foundation, which was established in 1968.

Now in his 70s, Taylor was as charming and talented as ever, joking with the audience between songs and providing interesting tidbits about his career and the inspiration behind some of his biggest hits. The show opened with a video montage of Taylor singing through the years. As the video played, Taylor himself emerged on stage, joining in live to kick off the performance.

The video and light show changed throughout the concert to appropriately match each song. Several of the tracks featured lyrics, lighting, and graphics scrolling across the screen to immerse fans in the performance.

Before playing “Copperline,” he talked about the painting with the  “landscape of music.” Taylor jokingly referred to “Everybody Has the Blues” as a utility blues number during his solo acoustic performance. He also told the story behind “Mona,” named after his pet pig.

Taylor’s buttery voice showed no signs of aging as he sang classics like “Fire and Rain,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” and “Mexico.” He said “You Make It Easy” is about 2 AM “when you make the best decisions” before a moving rendition with a gorgeous sax solo by band member Lou Marini.

During “Shower the People,” a moving video showed people from all walks of life joyfully singing along as Dorian Holley delivered a soaring solo. Fans were up dancing and singing along for most of the night.

Taylor closed the show with an energetic encore at the renowned Wolf Trap venue: “Summertime Blues” (Eddie Cochran cover), “Shed a Little Light”, and “You Can Close Your Eyes”. The first of three nights showcased his enduring musical gifts and cemented Wolf Trap as a cherished place to see live music.

Setlist provided by the band:

Something in the Way She Moves

Rainy Day Man

Copperline

Everybody Has the Blues

Mona  

Some Days You Gotta Dance
(The Chicks cover)

Fiddle Solo

Sweet Baby James

Country Road

Steamroller

Mexico
(Tribute to Jimmy Buffett)

Up on the Roof
(Carole King cover)
Set 2:

Secret o’ Life

You Make It Easy 

You’ve Got a Friend
(Carole King cover)

Carolina in My Mind

Raised Up Family

Fire and Rain

Shower the People

Your Smiling Face

Summertime Blues
(Eddie Cochran cover)

Shed a Little Light

You Can Close Your Eyes

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