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CONCERT REVIEW: Loretta Lynn @ The Keswick

Photo by PETE TROSHAK

At 9:15 pm Friday night, a prim, diminutive woman-of-a-certain-age glided onto the Keswick Theatre stage wearing a sparkly dress that would befit a princess, waving a mic like a magic wand, and was greeted with a loud ovation from a crowd waiting to see the most banned woman in country music history – Loretta Lynn. In the ’60s, Lynn pulled on the biggest pair of cowboy boots she could find and kicked open the doors of the country music boy’s club. She wasn’t banned for bad behavior but for singing candidly about infidelity, birth control, motherhood and war. Lynn scared the shit out of the white male power structure of Nashville, but undeniable talent and 16 number one hits gave her bargaining power. Stationed at the left front of the stage and radiating a certain gravitas, she unleashed over 20 songs while her sure-footed backing band rolled and rumbled behind her. She made it clear she still has the fire in the belly with her with a fierce performance of “Fist City,” a warning song to a another woman encroaching on her territory. Friday she sang it like the ink was still wet from writing it and with enough conviction to make you believe that at age 80 she would still be willing to throw-down and pull some hair if necessary to protect what she loves. Lynn closed out her set with a memorable “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” the song that led to an Oscar winning biopic of her and gave her a permanent place in pop culture history. It’s not really the same song she first sang as a young woman trying to make her place in the world. When she sang it Friday night it was a joyful vindication – the statement of a smiling survivor who has clawed her way up from her hardscrabble beginnings in the backwoods of Butcher Hollow, threw her hat in the ring in a business that had no time or place for woman who spoke her mind and carved out a 52-year career doing what she loves. — PETE TROSHAK

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