By Victoria L. Dammer
Bruce Hornsby and The Noisemakers brought the piano, Dulcimer, accordion, vocals, and so much more when they performed tunes from various musical genres at the Mayo Performing Art Center this week in a sold-out event.
Hornsby’s music combines jazz, rock, blues, gospel, folk, and more. Hornsby and the Range began their career in 1986, winning their first Grammy Award for Best New Artist for the biggest hit song of his and their careers, The Way It Is. Hornsby toured for two years with the Grateful Dead and put together The Noisemakers in the late ’90s, furthering his fan base.
It’s uncommon to get an uninterrupted two-hour performance from someone whose bio is as extensive as Hornsby, and his charm and funny sense of humor just enhanced his talent. The audience celebrated with loud applause as soon as he sat at the piano.
Hornsby showed a pile of papers with requests, and it didn’t take long for him to cover a litany of tunes that spanned from 1986 to the present. Opening with a drum solo, the group played Barren Ground, from the 1990 album A Night on the Town. Jumping ahead a few decades, the group entertained with the tune Cleopatra Jones from the 2020 album Non-Secure Connection. Cheers from the theater were continuous and reaffirmed Hornby’s power to entertain.
The group performed Day’s Ahead from their 2022 ‘Flicted album, Hornsby informing us he sang it as a duet with Danielle Haim, yet laughed that no one in the group could sing like her. He displayed his virtuoso talent on the piano; one would think his piano-teaching mother was the one who inspired him, yet he didn’t start playing until he was a teenager. Hornsby got a Jazz and Studio Music degree from the University of Miami and returned to his home state of Virginia, where he wrote music and performed with a band. Success soon followed.
Hornsby and The Noisemakers rocked the room with End of the Innocence, the lead single from Don Henley’s 3rd solo studio album, co-written and produced with Henley, released in 1989. The album, nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year, has some fantastic memorable music. Hornsby played a 2-minute mesmerizing piano solo, followed by an arousing violin, piano, drums, and guitar finish. At this point in the show, the standing ovation that followed proved how those in attendance revered the talent on stage.
Someone in the audience shouted, “You still have it, Bruce,” and Hornsby replied, “Sucker, that’s a fact.” Everyone celebrated with raucous laughter.
Hornsby played a piano instrumental, Song F, the accordion on the 1988 song Jacob’s Ladder, and even the Dulcimer, an instrument truly admired, thanks to its sweet sound found in rural southern music for the last few hundred years.
Hornsby didn’t disappoint with another of his famous songs, Every Little Kiss, which stirred the crowd into a frenzy and finished with a hauntingly beautiful piano intro to The Show Goes On. We all wished the show could go on for two more hours.
Bruce Hornsby and The Noisemakers are now on tour through September 2023.
The Mayo Performing Art Center, 100 South Street, Morristown, NJ 07960. Tickets to events are available at The Official Ticketing Site of Mayo Performing Arts Center | Mayo Performing Arts Center (mayoarts.org)