Concert Review: Lucinda Williams (DPAC)

BY MARK DOLEJS A while back, I texted a friend and asked him to convince me that I needed to go see Lucinda Williams when she came to the...


A while back, I texted a friend and asked him to convince me that I needed to go see Lucinda Williams when she came to the DPAC in Durham. We talked for a bit, but eventually he said “you won’t regret it.” That turned out to be an understatement.

I didn’t really know much about Lucinda Williams before standing in front of her with my camera, but I now feel like I have known her for decades. This is one of those shows that you just feel. It’s not just about listening to the music or feeling the beat, it’s about connecting with the songs and the artist.

My father passed away several months ago and I’ve been through a lot of emotions since then. For some reason, this show really seemed to fill a small hole. My dad wasn’t really a music fan, although by the amount of 45s and albums that I have found, he was a fan at some point early in his life.

I don’t know if he ever listened to any of Williams’ music or if he would have liked it, but I would like to think that maybe my dad would have made some of the same connections that I did tonight.

Lucinda Williams and Doug Pettibone

This show was a journey through time as Williams shared stories between every song, introducing them and helping to explain where she was in life when she wrote her poetic lyrics.

David Sutton, Lucinda Williams, and Doug Pettibone

Williams played for more than two hours, sitting for some songs and standing for others that she declared, “this one is a standing song!” No longer able to play her guitar since suffering a stroke in 2020, the three-time Grammy winner sang many of her hits along with “Rock N Roll Heart,” off her 2023 album Stories From A Rock N Roll Heart.

Lucinda Williams

Dressed in denim and a pair of old school Chucks, Williams sang hits including “Drunk Angel,” “The Ghosts of Highway 20,” and “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.”

Lucinda Williams, Mark Ford, and Doug Pettibone

One song that I especially connected with was “Heaven Blues,” written after Williams' mother, Lucille, died. The song has a heavy influence from Williams’ gospel blues background.

During Bob Dylan's "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry"

Throughout the night, imagery and memories of family were projected as a backdrop, tying in nicely with the stories that were shared between songs.

Williams ended the night with her song “Joy.” While this song talks about others that took her joy, and wanting to get that joy back, tonight’s concert brought joy to my heart and maybe a couple of tears along the way. Thank you Lu for sharing your life and life’s stories with those of us lucky enough to cross your path.
Photography is an avenue that Mark Dolejs uses to learn about the people and places that cross his path. After more than 30 years as a photojournalist, Mark enjoys concert, macro, and roadside photography. Follow Mark on Instagram at @solidrockpix.

Read Mark's posts here.


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