Bonnie Raitt. Photo by Ken Friedman

Do you believe in miracles? Always a skeptic, I might have to rethink my opinions on them, because I am on the receiving end of a massive one: Maine record store chain Bull Moose asked me to interview Bonnie Raitt in person at its Scarborough location on April 23, and you could join me.

The event coincides with the release of Raitt’s latest album, her sold-out show at Merrill Auditorium and Record Store Day.

Record Store Day, now in its 15th year, is an an annual celebration of independent record stores, and Chris Brown, chief financial officer of Bull Moose Music, was one of its founders. The day is celebrated globally and many artists release special edition vinyl.

About 75 spots are available for fans to attend the Bonnie Raitt interview in person, and you have until Sunday to enter your name into the drawing for passes at bullmoose.com. The winners will be drawn on April 18. But don’t despair if you’re not selected; the entire thing will be livestreamed from the Bull Moose Facebook page.

Raitt is one of my musical heroes, and Bull Moose staff told me that she is thrilled that a woman is conducting the interview.

As a longtime music writer, I’ve had the opportunity to interview a ton of my favorite musicians, and I’m thankful for every conversation, but those are almost always by telephone before the artists come to Maine to perform. This time, however, I’ll be sitting a few feet away from Raitt, and instead of taking notes, I’ll be looking right at her as she answers my questions.

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Speaking of questions, if you have any that you’re dying to ask Raitt, please reach out or leave a comment, as I’ll be making a list and checking it at least 87,946 times.

Raitt is set to release her 18th studio album, “Just Like That,” on April 22, the day before the visit to Bull Moose and her show at Merrill.

The first two singles, “Something’s Got a Hold of My Heart” and “Made Up Mind,” are out and stay true to the sound that made her one of the most enduring artists of the last several decades. One part blues, one part rock with contralto vocals and an unyielding commitment to solid lyricism and hooks, Bonnie Raitt sounds like no one else.

And aside from writing never-less-than-excellent songs, she sure knows how to choose others to record. In 2017, I visited the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville and saw the holy grail of lyrics: John Prine’s handwritten words to “Angel From Montgomery.” Raitt recorded it for her 1974 album “Streetlights,” and the song hasn’t lost any of its magic all these years later. This month marks the two-year anniversary of Prine’s death from COVID-19, and while that loss will always hurt, his music lives on, and Raitt’s take on “Angel” is a gold star in his legacy.

I’m also thinking about Raitt’s version of the early ’60s Del Shannon hit “Runaway” on her 1977 album “Sweet Forgiveness.” Raitt forged the song in her own brand of bluesy steel, and it, too, is pure dynamite.

I’ve been a Raitt fan since the late ’80s, dating back to my college radio days in Keene, New Hampshire. I’ve seen her live about five times and have always been entirely blown away by her shows. Raitt makes it look easy. From her smoking blues guitar to her vocals and tremendous band, these are real-deal rock ‘n’ roll events.

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I remember when she released “Nick of Time” in 1989. It won Grammys for album of the year, best female rock vocal performance and best female pop vocal performance. Along with the title track, my favorites on it are the righteous “Love Letter” and the ballad “Cry on My Shoulder.”

Then came “Luck of the Draw” in 1991. Top to bottom, the album holds up. It’s home to quite possibly the saddest song in the world, “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” by songwriters Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin. I don’t know who brought it to Raitt’s attention – oh wait, I can ask her! – but, man alive, hearing Raitt sing it is a spiritual experience, especially live. Her vocals are so powerful and sincere that I’m not sure if the tears it brings are from the lyrics’ sadness or the joy of hearing something so divine.

Jumping ahead to 2005, Raitt’s album “Souls Alike” opens with a track I have adopted as a personal theme song. I have run to it, cried to it, celebrated to it and sung it at the top of my off-key lungs. “I Will Not Be Broken”  includes the lines: “I will not be someone other than who I am/I will fight to make my stand/Cause what is livin’ if I can’t live free/What is freedom if I can’t be me,” and I can hear conviction and see the smile I imagine she had in the studio the day the track was laid down.

All of this is to say, my admiration and respect for Bonnie Raitt is immense. And I’m not alone. Her show at Merrill Auditorium sold out ages ago, and tickets are burning holes in pockets of fans for miles around.

If you’re selected to attend the event at Bull Moose, you’ll receive a sweet exclusive poster commemorating Raitt’s visit and also could win a signed poster or tickets to the show at Merrill.

But better yet, Bonnie, let’s give them something to talk about.


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