Oregon Music News: Oregon’s all-genre music magazine since 2009

John Hiatt performs at the Aladdin Theater Friday night. Photo by Jim McGuire.
John Hiatt performs at the Aladdin Theater Friday night. Photo by Jim McGuire.

Having a little faith in John Hiatt

By Scott Cunningham //

Singer-songwriter appears at Aladdin Theater on Friday

At dinner with friends on Sunday, we started talking about the upcoming week in music and I started talking enthusiastically about John Hiatt's gig Friday night at the Aladdin Theater in Portland.

Hiatt has always resonated with me, for a variety of reasons. First off, he is a masterful storyteller in his writing. Conveying emotion and storylines in song is much harder than many think it is, as any songwriter will tell you. Hiatt is also an incredible guitar player and can come at you with anything from straight up rock, to blues, to country-laced ballads. Throw in his gritty, almost gruff, vocals and you pretty much have a recipe for success.

For Hiatt, though, achieving success took quite a bit of time. Although he cut his first album in 1974, record labels were never quite sure how to market him. His third label, Geffen, finally started to realize Hiatt's potential with his 1983 release Riding With the King, a blues-laced album that started to bring his multitude of talents together in a single package.

In 1987, he landed with A&M records and cut Bring the Family on the heels of tremendous personal upheaval, including becoming sober. Bring the Family shines in every way imaginable, with Hiatt's skills in full display while being backed by what he considered an allstar band: Ry Cooder on guitar, Nick Lowe on bass, and Jim Keltner on drums.

Recorded in a mere four days, Bring the Family remains Hiatt's most well-received album and nearly every song on the record has been covered by the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Bon Jovi, and Joe Cocker.

While each of the ten cuts has its own endearing qualities, the most lasting song from the album has been Have a Little Faith In Me. To get you in the mood for Friday, take a listen to this classic cut in the clip below as Hiatt performs the song live.

ON TOUR: John Hiatt appears Friday night at the Aladdin Theater in Portland. For those of you lucky enough to have tickets, doors for the sold-out show are at 7:00 p.m.

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