Sunday evening was the last night this season to catch Lincoln Center Out of Doors – and what a night it was. Every summer Lincoln Center puts on free programming in Damrosch Park, the plaza directly adjacent to the Metropolitan Opera. It’s one of the highlights of the NYC summer calendar.
For the closing night of its 48th season, Out of Doors presented Margo Price and Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real, two rising stars of the country scene. Neither artist disappointed and the vibe from the audience was overwhelmingly joyous. In an indisputably tense time for our country, fraught with uncertainty about the institutions we hold dear, it was an almost saccharine gift to take a couple of hours to sing and dance along to Americana music. The beat of the music rang out like a heartbeat, connecting the audience. Even the most hardened New Yorkers softened, emboldened by spirit of the songs. It felt like an entirely different city.
The artists didn’t devote their entire sets to their own original music. Both included covers of folk favorites, singing songs by Dolly Parton, Paul Simon, and Neil Diamond, among others. Lukas Nelson, son of Willie Nelson, even sang a song “Forget About Georgia”, that he wrote in response to his father’s “Georgia on my Mind” after having to sing it with him a few too many times. Price, who sounds a bit like Dolly Parton, gave an excellent rendition of “9 to 5”. The song that will stay with me for some time to come, however, is “All American Made” – a song for our time, to be sure.