A vagabond toiler on the long rock 'n' roll highway, John Hiatt hardly needs an excuse to load up the tour bus. But he's got a good one these days: commemorating the 30th anniversaries of Bring The Family and Slow Turning, the late-1980s albums released in successive years that together represented his long-delayed commercial breakthrough. Hiatt was without a label when he recorded the material on Bring The Family. After A&M Records snapped it up, the album proved to be enough of a favorite with music critics that Hiatt had to quickly assemble a backing back to take on the road. Dubbed The Goners, the first-rate outfit—which included then-little-known blues guitar master Sonny Landreth—also accompanied Hiatt into the studio for the equally acclaimed better-selling follow-up, Slow Turning.
Both records have recently gotten the requisite modern exaltation of a vinyl re-release, but it's the later effort feeling the most love on this tour. After Hiatt ambles through a few favorites from his stacked songbook with little more than a trusty acoustic guitar, The Goners join him on stage to methodically track through Slow Turning, from the easy homespun romp "Drive South" to the wistful, slow-groove ballad "Feels Like Rain." Among the dwindling number of stalwarts of a certain brand of rock 'n' roll—earthy, warm, earnest, steeped in the history of the form—Hiatt is a wry, easygoing titan, skilled at storytelling. It should be especially satisfying to see him mine his own history for one of the most impressive nuggets of his own long tale. —Daniel Seeger