Live Review: Dar Williams, Bryn Mawr, PA, July 20, 2019

It was a perfect night for Dar Williams’ warm tales of welcoming communities and wise children, with a rose-gold sunset to the right of the Bryn Mawr Gazebo stage, tasty grape cake for our full bellies, and a sticky heat lasting deep into the night.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, Williams launched her set with “Calling The Moon,” and over the next 75 minutes, she did a masterful job of playing to both grownups and children without spoiling the show for either group.

She stood up for refugee kids and their advocates, praised the area’s therapists, rambled a bit about Willie Nelson before playing the new-ish “Time Be My Friend” and shared remembrances of Pete Seeger before “Storm King” and “If I Had A Hammer.”

On the other hand, she dedicated “After All” to soccer star Megan Rapinoe and “As Cool As I Am” to all female athletes, modifying the refrain “I will not be afraid of women” to “I will not be afraid of winning.” (And it says something about how much I respect Williams and enjoy that song in particular that I kept my eye-rolling to a bare minimum.)

“The Babysitter’s Here” and “The Christians And The Pagans” made me misty, as usual, but it was “Iowa” (dedicated to the folks who find common ground with their neighbors, even when they don’t see eye to eye, and one of several songs the Nields joined in on) that hit me in an unusual way. Not quite like I was home, not exactly like a guest, but like I wouldn’t mind sticking around for a while.

—M.J. Fine; photos by Chris Sikich