Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Buddy Miller, and the Milk Carton Kids kicked off their 11-stop “Lampedusa: Concerts for Refugees” tour with a tremendous, intimate performance Thursday night at the Boulder Theater. Seated together on stage, the artists swapped stories, played one another’s songs, and joked with the audience giving the show a balanced atmosphere of lightheartedness while still addressing the more serious purpose of the tour: shedding light on the continuing global refugee crisis of over 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes. After spending time in Ethiopia last year with the Jesuit Refugee Service, Emmylou Harris took it upon herself to champion this critical cause and even named the tour after the Italian island Lampedusa off the Sicilian coast that serves as a waypoint for refugees from North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia wanting to enter Europe.
Taking turns playing songs by themselves and at times together, Emmylou Harris was as ravishing and fantastic as I’ve ever seen her, Earle sounded terrific especially in a beautiful performance of “Pilgrim,” Buddy Miller’s guitar playing was magnificent, and the Milk Carton kids were an excellent complement to their storied counterparts, bringing a gorgeous acoustic sound and sprinkling in witty banter that had the audience and fellow artists laughing throughout the entirety of the evening. Hearing this lineup together on stage was truly a treat and a unique experience that will likely never happen again in quite the same manner. This short tour through the month of October is surely one not to be missed and is a terrific opportunity to support an organization working to address a serious and deadly humanitarian crisis.