Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris Duet

Picture a musical duet. Who’ve you conjured? Rogers/Easton?
Streisand/Gibb? Cher/Bono? Travolta/Newton? Ross/Richie? It’s not a
pretty picture, is it? Simply put, the duet doesn’t have much
artistic currency, at least in pop and rock, where it’s usually
used to generate sticky-sweet songs that guarantee gluttonous
record sales.

Well here is an album, and a show (tonight!) at the S.B. Bowl,
that spits in the faces of both Duet-as-Star-Vehicle and
Duet-as-Soul-Enhancer. Somehow, the guy responsible for one of the
catchiest rock songs ever, “Money for Nothing,” and the woman who
has graced more country and roots albums than anyone, have put
together a collection of songs that sound like the work of a
cohesive, long-standing band. And while All the Roadrunning won’t
catapult Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris to any platinum stardom,
this album will long be a standard of how to make a duet album

If you get yourself to the Bowl tonight, June 29, you’ll dazzle
at the inimitable guitar and vocal work of Knopfler, twinning with
Harris’s gorgeous, lilting voice. Harris largely plays a harmony
role, but even in the role of “support,” you can’t imagine these
songs sounding as good without her presence. Best of all, you won’t
have to worry about a night-long battle of preening mega-stars
hogging the spotlight “together,” looking dolefully into each
others’ eyes, acting out roles in a bunch of cornball songs. These
are real performers, on stage because they love making timeless
music. Sure, you’ll hear a Dire Straits chestnut or two, and maybe
Harris’s classic “Red Dirt Girl,” but don’t go for the individuals.
Go for the connection, the collaboration — things all too rare in

—Derek Svennungsen


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