As the legend goes, Robyn Celia and Linda Krantz, the former owners of Pappy and Harriet’s, would listen to a Lucinda Williams album every time they went to Pappy and Harriet’s before they owned the legendary venue. So it was no surprise that the first big act they booked when they bought the property was Lucinda Williams.

Now owned by Lisa Elin and J.B. Moresco, Pappy and Harriet’s welcomed back Lucinda Williams to play in front of a sold-out crowd on a chilly Monday evening.

The Cass McCombs Band opened with an eight-song set. Halfway through the set, McCombs checked in with the crowd: “Thank you! Are you keeping warm?” The Pioneertown gathering responded with a hoot. “County Line” was well received and my favorite song of the set.

Most audience members were bundled up due to the increasingly cold weather by the time Williams took the stage—including Williams herself. “Keeping my hands in my pockets,” she said. “I could not decide what to wear with the desert weather.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Linda Krantz at the show. The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Despite the cold, Williams was definitely glad to be onstage at Pappy and Harriet’s. She was spot-on in terms of her pitch and her banter with the audience. She offered insight into both her songs and the reasons why some in the music-industry haven’t always been receptive to her.

“This is why I did not cut my songs in Nashville—they are too naughty,” Williams said while introducing “The Night’s Too Long,” about a waitress in Beaumont who is looking for a man who “wears a leather jacket and likes his living rough.”

Keeping her hands mostly in her pockets to stay warm, she lit up with a smile when she spotted young kids in the audience. “I love to see kids out here. Cool parents. You guys have cool parents. Remember that. I hope I am a good influence,” said before adding: “I don’t have too many bad boys in my songs.”

Her gritty and heartfelt songs about tragedy were sublime. “Drunken Angel,” a song about the life and death of Austin songwriter Blaze Foley, was a prime example. Responding to cheers, she said: “Thank you. I love you all, too. The feeling is mutual.”

Lucinda mentioned that Tom Petty recorded “this song” as she began to sing “Changed the Locks,” released by Williams in 1988 and later made famous by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

This was my first experience seeing Lucinda Williams live; in fact, I wasn’t very familiar with her work before arriving at Pappy and Harriet’s on this Monday night. But I became a forever fan as she sang “Honey Bee”: “Your kiss just said it it all I’m glad we had this talk. Nothing left to do but fall in each other’s arms. I coulda said I love you, coulda wrote you a line or two baby. All I know to do is speak right from the heart.”

Lucinda Williams has an authentic connection with her fans. Her lyrics are heartfelt, as in the song “Joy”: “I don’t want you anymore, ’cause you took my joy. … I’m gonna go to west Memphis and look for my joy.” Attendees found plenty of joy on this night at Pappy and Harriet’s, thanks to Williams’ amazing performance.

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Guillermo Prieto

Guillermo Prieto is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine. That also happens to be the location of his first concert—which cemented his love of live music. A desert dweller for a quarter-century,...