Bonnie Raitt

Saturday, October 14, 1995

Alcatraz Island

It's been more than a week since I've published anything in 'thuh' column (thanks Herb Caen.) Thus I've had a particular vision of Bonnie Raitt filling this space. Let's face it... the lady's awfully pretty, super talented, makes interesting copy and besides, I knew I'd be in contact with her. The event was the third annual " Evening on Alcatraz ," a benefit concert hosted by Bread and Roses.

The only problem was that my sought after photo might never materialize.

Photographing any subject can be a very touchy affair. Capturing a "star" may go from hapless to hopeless. Tonight proved no exception. The air was crisp with tension as Bonnie was focused on her performance. She's been off the road for several months and was about to perform for the movers and shakers, some of whom paid over $1,000 to see her.

Bonnie nixed all candids on the ferry ride over and then scotched our pre planned dress rehearsal shots. It was that kind of an evening. Word came down that we could only raise our lenses during two of her songs (one whose title I entirely forget and the other, Kokomo, I did not recognize until its last few bars.) Not an unusual day in the photo biz. So I was lucky when Bread & Roses founder Mimi Fariña mentioned People Magazine's interest in Bonnie. I am a "stringer" or freelance photogger for People. After some ado and some more hairdos, Bonnie graciously emerged and sat for me. The first thing I did was whip out my trusty digital camera for this column (we come first!) and got off one and only one digital image. Thank Eastman it was usable!

Sharing the bill, The David Grisman Quintet was absolutely sensational and if you've never heard David's blend of acoustic swing, jazz, bluegrass and gypsy music- you should leap to your local music shoppe and pick up a CD or two. After their touching and bravura set Bonnie, waiting backstage to perform remarked "I feel like Sofie Tucker, a little tart who might soil his stage."

Nonsense. Bonnie was inspired. The cafeteria halls of this discarded Federal pen where Alfonse Capone slurped soup and the "Birdman" lifted scraps for his orphans touched her at the root and Ms. Raitt delivered. Truly a rare and singular talent, do yourself a favor and see the lady live and in person. She loves the road!

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