Terri Clark: Unplugged emotion
Terri Clark isn’t the first singer-songwriter to tour unplugged and alone. But she certainly executed the concept to near perfection Wednesday evening at the Sellersville Theater.
Accompanied onstage by five guitars, only four of which she played during the nearly two-hour gig, the Canadian-born country music star has designed a show that she hopes is “like sitting in a living room at a party with someone who has a guitar in her lap.”
In that regard, Clark accomplished that in spades. It’s a return to her roots, when she played at Tootsies Orchid Lounge in Nashville for tips more than two decades ago.
What took it to the next level this time was the way she really laid herself bare to the audience, talking at length and with emotion between songs, especially about her mother Linda, who died in April after a battle with cancer.
The hootin’ and hollerin’ early in the show from the northeast hillbillies in the crowd — whom Clark suggested could be considered more “sophisticated” than hillbillies in other parts of the country — gave way to stone cold silence midway through the show as Clark detailed her mother’s illness and the impact it has had on her, both personally and musically.
Concert tickets aren’t cheap these days, given our current economic climate. Certainly folks expect to be entertained for their money, and that’s nothing new. But everybody has lost a loved one, and when the person on stage opens up and shares that experience, people can relate. We feel like we know the person on the cover of the CD.
The particularly poignant moment came when Clark talked about being at her mother’s hospital bedside and starting to cry. Awakened by her daughter’s tears, Linda comforted Terri with words that had to do with always being able to smile. After her mother’s death, Clark took those words and turned it into a song, which she performed for the enthralled ST94 crowd. She hasn’t yet recorded the song, but it played big in Sellersville, as I suspect it has at other stops in the tour.
Meet-and-greets with people before the show, signing autographs for fans after the show — and in between laying out your heart and soul to a group of strangers who have paid to see you perform — it’s the total experience for an artist and the fans.
Someday Terri Clark will go back to full band concerts with all the bells and whistles. But at this point in her career, the “Unplugged and Alone” tour appears to be Clark’s way of not only dealing with her career changes and challenges but her personal loss as well.
It’s the right artist doing the right show at the right time. What more can be asked?