_____________________________ ST. NORBERT CHURCH           RATES ________________________         EBOOK


Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts: Mary Chapin Carpenter at Cerritos, a Rare Privilege

By Glen Creason


For at least the last twenty-five years Mary Chapin Carpenter has been one of America’s greatest singer-songwriters but has never gotten the acclaim she deserves in my opinion. As the years go by she keeps making excellent records comprised of very personal and memorable songs without too much fanfare. Just having her at Cerritos was a coup for the Center but the show she put on made them all look better than good. In a long and satisfying Sunday evening performance she sang touching ballads, made witty banter and got the packed house up on its feet for a heartfelt standing ovation at the conclusion of her encore of “I Feel Lucky” which described all of us in attendance.

At this show she opted to lean toward the introspective which was fine with most of the house who often had to dab at their eyes in beauties like “Why Walk When You Can Fly,” “This Shirt,” “Rhythm of the Blues” and the truly magnificent “Only a Dream” which seems to have been written to my own brother. Like the seasoned pro that she is there were up-tempo breaks like “Stones in the Road,” “Take My Chances” and a hard rocking “Hard Way” lead by the powerhouse guitar of John Doyle. Still, there were exceptional moments that demonstrated how Ms. Chapin Carpenter rises above good to great. Few artists can announce a new song and win the crowd but her “Hand on My Back” received standing ovations and the story and song of “John Doe #24” had Kleenex pulled all over the house. Despite the large hall, there was an intimacy that was palpable and expressed in little gems like “Transcendental Reunion” and “I Have a Need for Solitude” that just made the center sweetly cozy.

The show was opened by one of music’s best kept secrets, the amazing singer-songwriter Tifft Merritt who in an economical half hour gave those new to her great talents something to think about. Songs like “Feel of the World,” “Feeling of Beauty” and the achingly beautiful “Travelling Alone” showed the power of her gifts. Her covers of Joni Mitchell’s “For Free” and Tom Waits “Train Song” never sounded better by anybody, even the originals.