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Michael McDonald (Opening Act: Sam Lewis)
September 10, 2014
The Tennessee Theater


Photo by James R. Patterson




Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of seeing several artists and acts more than once. The fact that I want to see them repeatedly speaks to the fact that I don’t ever expect a disappointing performance . . . and I’ve never experienced one.

In the case of Michael McDonald, he is the first artists who I’ve seen more than once and which there was so little time between seeing him perform. I had the privilege of seeing him perform for the first time two and a half weeks ago with Toto in Atlanta, Georgia. Wednesday night, I was again blessed to see this legendary artist perform, this time, at the magnificent Tennessee Theater in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee.

Speaking of the theater, this was my first opportunity to catch a show there. Wow! What an incredible experience. Built in 1928 and it’s last extensive restoration completed in 2005, the theater has been ranked by Pollstar as 47th of the World’s Top 50 Theaters based on attendance. The staff is courteous and professional and the theater’s acoustics are superb. I’m looking forward to seeing many more performances in that great theater.

The opening act for McDonald was Nashville, Tennessee’s Sam Lewis. What a pleasant surprise this man was as a performer!  I wasn’t familiar with this masterful songsmith but, rest assured, I fully intend on keeping up with this master of Americana music. His tunes were engaging and brilliantly written and performed. Just him, his acoustic guitar and his bass playing sidekick, Lewis had the crowd eating out of his hand. I had the privilege of briefly meeting him after the show and found him to be equally engaging. Keep an eye on this guy. He’s going places.

Michael McDonald hit the stage after a brief intermission and, just as he did in Atlanta and, no doubt, everywhere he performs, he had the capacity crowd loving

Photo by James R. Patterson

him from the first note of the first song (“Here To Love You”) all the way through until the last bow after the last song of the encore (“Takin’ It To The Streets”).

The enthusiastic Knoxville crowd greeted each and every song as a dear, old friend who reminds them of times past that the songs are tied to.  Greats like “It Keeps You Runnin’,” “I Keep Forgetting,” the rockin’ “Obsession Blues,” the funky “No Love To Be Found,” “No Love To Be Found,” “Ya Mo Be There,” “Minute By Minute,” the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell hit, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “This Is It,” and wrapping up the set with “What A Fool Believes”.

The encores was an amazing performance of the Eric Clapton hit, “Change The World,” by the man who wrote it, McDonald’s award winning bassist and producer, Tommy Sims. I’d have loved to have been able to rewind it and listen to it several more times before the show was over. “Change” was followed by a great Stevie Wonder medley (“You Haven’t Done Nothin’/Superstition”) and closing out with the aforementioned Doobie Brothers hit, “Takin’ It To The Streets”.

Very early on in the show, McDonald glowingly introduced the members of his band, making it very clear how appreciative he is of each and every one of them. Michael’s graciousness extended to the select few who got to meet him after the show and even those who accosted him on the street as he was heading toward his toward bus to hit the road once again.  The man is a class act all the way and is why the crowds love and adore this iconic singer/songwriter/performer.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to see Michael McDonald perform live, do! If you’ve seen him before, then you already know that he’s worth the price of admission to see him as many times as you can.

Yeah, he’s that good!

                                                                  Photo by James R. Patterson