Bonnie Raitt’s last two-year tour actually wrapped up last December.
So why is the blues singer-songwriter back on the road again?
Simple answer: it’s in her blood.
“I feel responsible, because we are traveling with 22 people and it’s important to stay healthy,” Raitt said. “We have organic food at each venue. We get fresh air. I bring my yoga gear with me. And we carry bicycles underneath the bus so we can explore.
“We’ve played some of these places so many times, it’s like seeing old friends.”
With 17 albums, 10 Grammy Awards, spots on Rolling Stone Magazine’s lists of the 100 Greatest Guitarists and the 100 Greatest Singers of All time, and a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it’s pretty obvious that Raitt has found the right formula.
“I knew that charts would come and go, but the fans will always stay with you,” Raitt said about her extensive touring schedule.
She balances the travel with her rootsy album releases, plus selected collaborations with the likes of Alicia Keys, Keb’ Mo’, and John Lee Hooker.
It’s an approach that’s made her an American musical icon, but you’d never know it. The humble, friendly Raitt said that she simply appreciates things being a little easier these days than when she was first starting out.
“The bus is nicer, the hotels are better, the level of success brings a level of comfort,” Raitt said. “But the real benefit of being around a long time and having fans that stick with you is that you can choose what you do.”
Much of what Raitt chooses these days is live performance.
“The road is really fun for me,” she said. “You have to really like it – and I do.”
For the last 17 years, Raitt and her band have traveled at night “to avoid traffic,” she explained.
They’ve also dialed in ways to stay healthy for peak performance.
“Health, exercise, good food, and enough sleep doesn’t sound very rock and roll, but it actually is,” Raitt said.
And they have a road routine worked out to maximize the experience.
After selected dates this summer, Raitt will go back into the studio.
“For this next record, I’ve been writing more easily,” she said. “[I]t’s been more difficult to come up with more original stuff that you haven’t already sung about, or grooves that you haven’t already played, to be original and fresh.” To do that, she edits what she listens to a bit. “I have to be very careful not to listen to Randy Newman or Jackson Browne, because then I’ll be so intimidated that I won’t write anything,” she said with a laugh.
That intimidation factor is now being paid forward, as Raitt’s own songs have been covered recently by a range of current pop/ rock artists, including Adele, Bon Iver, and Kelly Clarkson.
Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters even approached Raitt at a charity event and told her that meeting her was on his “bucket list.”
“I do have to thank musicians like Adele, and Justin Vernon from Bon Iver,” Raitt said. “With them giving me props, I’m reaching a whole new generation.”
Including Interlochen’s students, who will be treated to what’s sure to be a landmark Raitt performance next week.
“With Interlochen being such a renowned arts and music place, it’s always a very discerning audience, and very enthusiastic, so I’m really looking forward to going back,” she said.
“And I hope some of their youth will show up.”
Bonnie Raitt with special guest Paul Cebar will be in concert at Interlochen’s Kresge Auditorium at 8pm on June 30. For tickets and more, visit tickets.interlochen.org.