Ed Bass kicks off benefit concert with big announcement, followed by some big-time talent

Clint Black, Don Henley and Lyle Lovett, from left, teamed up for “Helping Texans.”
Clint Black, Don Henley and Lyle Lovett, from left, teamed up for “Helping Texans.”

Clint Black, Don Henley and Lyle Lovett concluded their “Helping Texans: A Hurricane Harvey Benefit Concert” on Tuesday night by joining together for “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” an appropriate, hand-clapping song choice for a show with a lot of heart, all of it dedicated to Hurricane Harvey relief except for the parts that the singers put into their music.

The song capped a nearly four-hour show in which each artist did an individual set, concluding with a finale in which Black joined Henley for a performance of the Eagles’ “Desperado” (it was supposed to be a surprise, but Henley sheepishly admitted that he spoiled it beforehand) and then Lovett joined them for Henley’s holiday hit “Please Come Home for Christmas” and then for “Deep in the Heart.”

Proceeds from the benefit will go to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund at the North Texas Community Foundation, which will distribute money from the concert to charitable organizations and programs in Houston and in Aransas County that are bringing relief to those affected by the hurricane.

Fort Worth businessman Ed Bass, who organized the benefit after a text from Black seeking a way to help hurricane victims, introduced the concert, saying that it raised more than a million dollars for hurricane relief.

With seats ranging from $150 to $1,000, the artists seemed determined to give the crowd its money’s worth, although Black quipped that the crowd had paid way too much to see them.

The country singer and the former Eagle, who have a history of helping each other out, are doing a Hurricane Harvey benefit with Lyle Lovett on Nov. 28 at Bass Hall in Fort Worth.

Their individual sets also had individual character: Lovett kicked things off with a relatively brief, acoustic set of melancholy-tinged songs mixed with storytelling about where he and his musicians were performing during the hurricane (they were in Houston the night before Harvey hit the city and had to cancel a show in San Antonio — and were playing Bass Hall when Black’s text to Ed Bass came in), along with witty anecdotes about newscasters from the Northeast struggling to pronounce the names of South Texas cities, and about his own fascination with the cities on pre-green-screen TV weather maps when he was a kid.

Seeming diffident but also talkative, Lovett tied his monologues into certain songs, using the one about South Texas towns to lead into “South Texas Girl” and an appreciation of the “Cajun Navy” that helped rescue flood-stricken storm victims to intro “If I Had a Boat,” a whimsical departure from the otherwise low-key air of his set.

Like Lovett, Black grew up in the Houston area, and his set, sandwiched in between Lovett’s and Henley’s, was a mix of lively, versatile music and wry humor, highlighted by such staples as “Killin’ Time” and “Better Man,” by Black’s cover of Waylon Jennings’ “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Wasy” and by guitar duels with his longtime collaborator, Hayden Nicholas.

Black sang a stellar version of the ballad “Like the Rain,” and made part of the show a family affair, as his wife, Lisa Hartman Black, came out to join him on their marital duet “When I Said I Do” and his 16-year-old daughter took a crowd-pleasing, belting solo turn at the mic to sing Carrie Underwood’s tearjerker “Temporary Home.”

Henley went after a balance of ’80s hits, songs from his 2015 CD “Cass County,” covers (although he’s done it in concert before, a faithful version of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” was a bit of a surprise), lightly touching on his Eagles past with most of his large band kicking off the set with “Seven Bridges Road” and with his duet with Black on “Desperado.”

Background vocalists Erica Swindell, Lily Elise and Lara Johnston joined Henley for an almost a cappella version of Garth Brooks’ “It Don’t Matter to the Sun,” and Swindell joined Henley on “When I Stop Dreaming,” stepping into the shoes of Dolly Parton, who sings the song with Henley on “Cass County.”

Although the concert was lengthy, largely because of stage changes between the sets, the show felt like it wrapped quickly, with Henley announcing that the show was going overtime so he had to cut to the chase, and bring out Black and then Lovett for the closing songs. You got the sense that each singer would have liked to have perform a longer set. Four hours can be a long running time for a show, but not for one put together with so much heart.