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Sara Evans comes around again with Barker Family Band, and that's just fine

City Winery Boston, Boston, May 9, 2019

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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What goes around comes around for Sara Evans. Back about four decades ago, she was singing weekends with her family band in Missouri. Now, she's back on the road on a very short tour including two of her children and three siblings. For now, Evans, at 49, has lost absolutely none of her vocal super powers, and her offspring can handle their own at this young stage.

The front porch kind of night - all but Evans and her daughter were seated - provided the chance to see Evans in a way you may never see her again. In addition to playing a small venue with maybe a few hundred on hand, Evans ceded the spotlight to her family, especially her daughter, Olivia, 16, and son Avery, 19, a number of times.

But she certainly was center stage and deservedly so. Evans was the vocal powerhouse that drove the music. Her singing has spot on - powerfully so. The Missouri native knew how to turn it on vocally, but not just for vocal flash.

Olivia provided backing vocals along with Evans' sister, Leslie. Olivia also took over lead vocals on a few songs, including "Over the Rainbow," which is on the EP, and got better and better as she went along. She put her own mark on Stevie Wonder's "As" to close out the regular set. Olivia wasn't trying to mimic Wonder, supplying a more subdued singer-oriented version.

Olivia has a pretty voice and vocal presence. She could use more stage presence as her mom assumed all the banter, even introducing a song that Olivia would sing.

Avery, who is in Sara's regular band, showed his musical mettle with lots of sharp playing on acoustic.

There were a lot of covers throughout the night - the EP is mainly comprised of covers - including Sara taking lead on "(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman" and Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" and Olivia on Carol King's "So Far Away." Perhaps the covers were a bit too familiar, but, on the other hand, one sensed that this was a six-date tour designed to maximize fun.

As if to set the stage for the next generation, Evans closed with a stellar version of her biggest hit, "Born to Fly," with help from opening act Fairground Saints. Not that Evans is going any place any time soon, but Olivia and Avery again showed off their talents.

Give a heavy dose of credit for Evans for taking on one-off side project that clearly is fun for her and family, but more importantly delivers musically. There's something to be said for coming around again.

Only catching a snippet of Fairground Saints, the Nashville-via-SoCal trio, recalls Little Big Town as advertised. They can sing and play with top-notch vocal harmonies. Fairground Saints were very good at their breezy Laurel Canyon-styled music.