Kris Kristofferson Brings Songbook of Hits to Lerner Theatre

August 11, 2013

Over the past five decades, Kris Kristofferson has written some of country and folk music’s most beloved songs, and that love was evident Saturday, Aug. 10, at the Lerner Theatre.

Even though the downtown Elkhart venue has 1,700 seats, the Country Music Hall of Famer’s concert had an intimate feel. Kristofferson appeared on the stage alone, playing harmonica and an acoustic guitar and interacting with the crowd in between songs.

“I have the hair on the back of my neck standing up,” Lerner general manager David Smith said before welcoming Kristofferson to the stage.

Kristofferson opened his set with “Shipwrecked in the Eighties,” a song he told the audience that he wrote 33 years ago. Laughing off a shaky start because of sound issues, he played his hit songs including “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down,” “Silver Tongued Devil,” “Casey’s Last Ride” and “Me and Bobby McGee” with a shout out to Janis Joplin who famously covered the song. He also played a couple of newer tunes including “Feeling Mortal,” the title track from his latest album released in January. Kristofferson, who stayed after the show to sign autographs, ended the concert with “Why Me Lord,” another favorite among fans.

Fans who attended Kristofferson’s concert at the Lerner commented on his dynamic approach to entertainment. In addition to being a singer, musician and songwriter, he is also an award-winning actor.

“I remember when he was in ‘A Star is Born,’” said Beth Hollingsworth, of Goshen.

Kristofferson starred in the movie with Barbra Streisand and won a Golden Globe for his role.

Sam Ellis and his wife, Brenda, drove from Grand Junction, Mich., for the concert. Ellis’ wife bought tickets to the show July 31 for his 60th birthday.

“I was first introduced to his music during my senior year of high school,” he said. “Me and my buddies used to drive around in a 1960 Rambler American and listen to him on 8-track, and we’re all still buddies to this day. We know every song word for word.”