Last fall, as the pandemic ground live concerts to a halt, Red Rocks Amphitheatre finished out its concert season the best it could. Numerous artists performed extremely reduced capacity shows—with crowds of 175 people allowed into the nearly 10,000 seat amphitheater—in one of the industry’s first baby steps back toward normalcy.
Among those artists was Nathaniel Rateliff, who staged a six-night run of concerts with members of his band The Night Sweats. The first five shows hosted a socially distant, reduced capacity crowd, whereas the final night—September 20th—saw the ensemble play to an empty venue. On Friday, the accomplished singer-songwriter announced the release of Red Rocks 2020, a live album culled from that final, crowdless night.
The 18-track release, out on July 16th via Stax Records, hosts guest appearances by Kevin Morby and Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee), the former of whom joined Rateliff on a cover of Leonard Cohen‘s “There Is A War”. In addition to his Night Sweats bandmates Joseph Pope III (bass), Mark Shusterman (keyboards), Patrick Meese (drums), and Luke Mossman (guitar), Rateliff shared the stage with James Barone (guitar) and a string section composed of Joy Adams (cello), Rachel Sliker (viola), Adrienne Short (violin), and Chris Jusell (violin).
Nathaniel Rateliff said of Red Rocks 2020, per JamBase,
We started out 2020 very excited. The solo record [And It’s Still Alright] was out and me and most of the guys in the Night Sweats were going hit the road to present the songs to the world. We were looking forward to performing the songs together with a string quartet and how it was going to make us [a] better band. We had some of our favorite songwriters and friends hitting the road with us. With a grand finale at Red Rocks with Kevin Morby and Damien Jurado. Then the world came to stand still.
The songs on And It’s Still Alright are about finding hope in times of struggles, and now it seemed the whole world was struggling. So, few months into the pandemic we started to wonder if there was a way to bring the show we worked so hard on to everyone. If you can’t find a light you have to create one. Somehow, we were able to play 6 nights at Red Rocks with the full 10-piece band and the production we had created for the show. Kevin Morby and Katie Crutchfield drove out from Missouri to join us. Five of the night had 175 people and one night we filmed to an empty amphitheater that normally holds 10.000 people. It was beautiful to be there, even if it was 175 people. But the night we recorded this record it was heart breaking. It was a realization that our world had changed and maybe forever. Needless to say, it was a hard night to make it through. But we did it and now we are bringing it to you.
Get a taste of Red Rocks 2020 with a performance video of “Mavis”, taken from the show. Red Rocks 2020 is available here for pre-order. Scroll down to see a full tracklist and album art.
Nathaniel Rateliff – “Mavis” – Morrison, CO – 9/20/20
[Video: Nathaniel Rateliff]
Red Rocks 2020 Tracklist
All Or Nothing
Expecting To Lose
You Need Me
What A Drag
Still Out There Running
Early Spring Till
Kissing Our Friends
Oil & Lavender
There Is A War
And It’s Still Alright