Emmylou Harris Gets Families Dancing at Eagle River Pavilion

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Country icon Emmylou Harris played an admittedly somber two-hour set at the Eagle River Pavilion on July 21. She and 800-900 of her fans braved oppressive sunshine and 95-degree temperatures to enjoy a selection of greatest hits, songs off Harris' 2011 album, Hard Bargain, and covers including "Songbird," "Evangeline" and "The Road."

Family friendly events all too often entail parents suffering through The Lion King on Ice or the latest in the Shrek franchise. But Harris helped redefine the family friendly event on Saturday night without air conditioning or a carnival of anthropomorphic costumes—just fans and their families dancing on the grass.

Two of those fans were Jeff and Julie Careaga and their children.

“It’s a family-friendly event,” Julie said. "We brought mom with us, and the music is great for the kids.”

Pointing to the Tropical Island Kona Ice truck behind where they’d set up their blanket, she said, “You can’t get much more friendly than that.”

Mary Records of Sandpoint, Idaho, joined her parents to watch Harris.

“I probably wouldn’t be here If my parents weren’t here,” she said. “Emmylou Harris is my dad’s favorite singer, like, ever.”

While there were many at Harris’ concert who tapped their toes, bounced to the beat and square-danced, Records was the only one hula-hooping to the music.

Fittingly, Harris' set reflected on families and friends.

“I like to write sad songs, but I had a happy childhood. Big problem,” Harris said just before launching into "Red Dirt Girl."

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