Best Of 2008

BEST BAY AREA CONCERT DEBUT: Shelby Lynne, July 17, Tampa Theatre

Shelby Lynne in concert at Tampa Theatre in July.

She’s one of those supremely talented artists who for one reason or another (or a million) cannot achieve real career traction. Shelby Lynne’s local debut concert (as far as we can reckon) was produced by Ruth Eckerd Hall as part of its “On the Road” series, and drew about 500 people to the 1,400-seat Tampa Theatre. No matter. Lynne, backed by a four-piece band, took a little while to get untracked, but once she started into songs from this year’s Dusty Springfield tribute CD, Just a Little Lovin’, she transformed the venue into her living room. This was not about spectacle; it was about communicating stories and feelings through song. Lynne, who possesses astonishing pipes, calibrated her emotions throughout, so that each time she would cut loose and belt, it had more impact. At other times, she had you leaning in to listen. When a woman came down front to dance, Shelby really perked up. “Let me have your purse, honey,” Shelby drawled, “it’ll be easier to dance.” In short order, a group of folks gathered in front of the stage (she grabbed a guy’s wallet and went through it); some of them were slow dancing. A special moment. It looked like Shelby thought so, too. Here’s to hoping she won’t be a stranger.