Staff Pick: Leon Russell returns to prominence with an assist from Elton John

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

After decades spent off-radar, ’70s icon Leon Russell returned to prominence in 2010 with The Union, his high-profile collaboration with Elton John. In the album liner notes, John wrote he hoped to return some of the spotlight to his longtime idol, and he approached the recording with similar generosity, leaving ample room for the 71-year-old Russell to flaunt his ample skillset. The musician responded with his liveliest performance in ages, flitting seamlessly from downtrodden ballads (a weary “There’s No Tomorrow”) to comparatively swinging numbers like the R&B-flecked “Monkey Suit.”

The Oklahoma-born Russell, who looks like the ghost of a Civil War general with his long hair and snow-white beard, has kept himself plenty busy in the years since, maintaining a steady tour schedule that brings him to Woodlands Backyard for a can’t-miss concert this weekend.

Alex Dezen of the Damnwells opens the show.

Photo courtesy of Leon Russell

Woodlands Backyard

8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15

668 Grandview Ave., Grandview