It may have been the storm blowing over Pocatello or the poor publicity but the Jensen Grand Concert hall was only half full at the fundraiser for Democratic congressional candidate, Jim Hansen. Though few in number, the audience responded to the intimacy and fervor of the performances by Pocatello songwriter, Steve Eaton, and Carole King, an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
After a welcome speech from Hansen and Maria Weeg who introduced tribute speakers, Steve Eaton opened with a few acoustic guitar numbers including his poignant "Montana in Song," a lyric that celebrates the great outdoors and those who work them. Eaton then switched to piano. One of the finest boogie-woogie pianists in the business, Eaton performed a rousing set including a fine rendition of "You Don't Know Me" by Ray Charles. Accompanied by prerecorded bass and drums, Eaton joked that his "back-up band never demands money and is always on time." Given the power of his voice and piano, Steve Eaton doesn't need much assistance to get the crowd cheering.
After intermission, Grammy winner King immediately established contact with her audience. A dynamic performer and prolific song writer, the blonde-haired Brooklyn native turned Idahoan has enough hits to guarantee most spectators will have an emotional connection to at least one song. Her vibrant piano playing is a combination of jazz and rock with a touch of gospel, and King's rich contralto brings a blues edge to the lyrics. She even expressed her wonder for the concert hall itself, calling it "a magical place." (King performed at the gala opening of the concert hall last year.) Joined onstage by guitarist, Rudy Guess, the audience cheered when King performed her signature hit, "I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet," but it was the final song dedicated to Hansen, "You've Got a Friend," that provided a touching and fitting end to the performance. It was a "magical moment."