(STOCKBRIDGE, Mass., Sunday, July 3) — When Tanglewood’s summer schedule came out last January, we were delighted to see “James Taylor and the Boston Pops” on the roster. Based on the assumption and expectation the concert would mean all-Taylor with the Pops all evening, we snapped up tickets.

Assumptions and expectation, however, don’t make a strong base. When we arrived  at Tanglewood on July 1, the program revealed a first act of John Williams and the Boston Pops followed by a second act of James Taylor. We expected and assumed to be disappointed. We weren’t. A fantastic performance ensued, and we enjoyed seeing Taylor in a different way.

‘A Grand Night for Singing’

It was, as an old song says, “a grand night for singing,” with a clear sky and a cool, light breeze.

Pops conductor and composer John  Williams, best known for his soaring cinematic scores (Superman, ET, Schindler’s List and many more) started the evening with Jubilee 350, written for the 350th anniversary of Boston. Blaring with brass and emboldened by drums, this piece seemed derivative of his movie music.

The Pops offered a resounding version of Williams’ score for the film Far and Away, set in Ireland. The signature Celtic sound of fiddle and drums took us across the Atlantic. These pieces included beautiful and moving passages, as did a finale rendering of the love theme from Superman, followed by that film’s march. In between came escapades from Catch Me If You Can, the story of a brilliant con man played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Williams explained that since the action took place in the late 1950s/early 1960, he employed cool, hip jazz tracks for the score. He brought out two Hollywood performers who are on the movie’s soundtrack: Dan Higgins on alto sax and Mile Valerio on bass. They teamed with the Pop’s vibraphone player, J. William Hudgins. This jazz trio would have been a hit on its own.

Taylor, in a Tie

After intermission, tall, lean James Taylor strode on stage to great applause, wearing a coat and tie! His band members — Larry Goldings on keyboards, Jimmy Johnson on bass, and Chad Wackerman on drums — were introduced immediately and the Pops was still on hand. His first song was “Getting to Know You” from The King & I, given the light. breezy treatment the lyrics suggest.

Then the audience shout-out remarks began: “I love you, James,” to which he replied, “I love you, too, although this is a pretty public place to say it.” He’s used the line before, but it works. To a yelled “Marry me, James” he said into his guitar, “I can see this is going nowhere fast.” A less mellow or experienced performer might have gotten rattled. Taylor’s had years of experience of seeing it all.

We assumed and expected to love all his songs and we did, from  “I’m a Mean Old Man” and “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” to “Carolina in My Mind” and Carol King/Gerry Goffen’s “Up on the Roof.”  Introducing King’s song “You’ve Got a Friend,” Taylor quipped he couldn’t remember the decade surrounding the creation of the song, but he remembers hearing it for the first time and wanting to sing it.

“Little did I know I would be singing it every night for the rest of my life,” he said.

Taylor was beautifully backed up five singers, including his wife Kim.

Thunderous post-concert applause guaranteed an encore or two. The first was “Sweet Baby James” and, as always, the crowd roared at the line “from Stockbridge to Boston.” The song was written as a lullaby for his namesake nephew and we’d love to know how old that boy is now. As we left, we heard two more encores in the wind.

James Taylor performs with Nashville-based singers Vince Gill and Any Grant in the shed at Tanglewood on the nights of July 3 and 4. Call 413-637-5165 or visits

Jerri Chaplin is a writer who lives in Charleston, S,C, and Pittsfield, Mass. She is the author of Vertically Coastal, a book of poetry to be published this year by PLANET MEDIA BOOKS.




Special to PLANET VALENTI Sports

(PITTSFIELD, Mass., Game of Saturday, July 2) — The Pittsfield Colonials scored seven unanswered runs between the fourth and seventh innings to rally for a 7-5 win over the Brockton Rox in front of a season high 1,402 fans at historic Wahconah Park

Things got off to a rough start for the home team as Brockton scored five runs over the first two innings to go up 5-0.

The Colonials got on the comeback trail in the fourth when Matt Nandin led off with a double. Three batters later, Angel Molina singled him home to make it 5-1. The next batter, Johnny Welch, clocked his ninth home run of the year over the left-centerfield wall to slice the lead to 5-3. In the next inning, the Colonials pulled closer as a groundout by Nandin scored Quentin Davis, who had walked and moved to third on a double by Jerod Edmondson.

Pittsfield would take the lead in the sixth. With two outs, Scott Knazek singled in Welch to knot the score at 5-5. It would only take one batter to untie the score as Quentin Davis brought home Knazek to make it 6-5. The Colonials would tack on an insurance run when Danny Bomback drilled his third homer of the season to right, making it 7-5.

The win went to Miguel Flores (1-4), who at one point retired 11 of 13 batters through the middle innings. Rafael Lluberes held the Rox scoreless over the 2.2 innings for his second save. Mike Smith (3-4) took the loss for Brockton.

The second game of the series comes up on Sunday where it is Ethnic Night at Wahconah Park with a special 5 p.m. first pitch. Chad Paronto (3-3, 4.30) takes the hill for Pittsfield against Dustin Birosak (3-0, 0.50) for Brockton. For tickets, visit or call (413)-236-2961.

Comments are closed.