Ronstadt Generations



Monday, Feb. 24

Joshua Levine

The Ronstadt name looms large over Tucson. But honestly, despite having lived in the city for more than 20 years, my association with the legacy is peripheral at best; the most I know is that Linda Ronstadt is somehow responsible for the Eagles and there's a public bus station named after the family.

At the Chicago Bar on Monday nights, it's a different story entirely. A couple of generations of the family get together and just play music for the sake of it. Folk, country, mariachi, blues—it seems the trio plays whatever suits their fancy. It's great stuff and especially great fodder to muse on how much better life would have been if these gentlemen had defined '70s Los Angeles country rock instead of Don Henley and the cocaine cowboys. Because Ronstadt Generations' music sounds lived-in, authentic, soulful, and affectless, it hits squarely in the gut and the heart.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the performance was the bond between the audience and the musicians. Nobody was cooler than anyone else, no one looked stupid while they were dancing to the music (and quite a few people were dancing), and no one on the tiny stage had the slightest air of arrogance or pomposity emanating from them. It was like a beautiful parallel universe where tradition doesn't mean a horrific history of segregation but the opposite, which would be the togetherness whose caricature those omnipresent Eagles made a mint off of. But on this night, the Eagles and their shadow were nonexistent. Which left us with Ronstadt Generations and their wonderful music.

The revelatory version of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice (It's Alright)" was, without being hyperbolic, absolutely stunning. It was the kind of performance that turned the "crying in your beer" (in my case, a whiskey and Coke) cliché on its head. In a week that saw the mockery of basic humanity in Venezuela, the Ukraine, and right here in Arizona, with our Larry, Moe, and Curly State Senate and their reprehensible SB 1062—and I don't know which is more reprehensible: the bill itself or the question of whether Governor Brewer will sign it into law—for a brief moment, I didn't think twice, everything was alright.

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