Even though she was dressed head to toe in gleaming white, soulstress Bettye LaVette wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty Friday morning at Michigan’s inaugural Rothbury Festival. The diminutive singer, whose voice remains as forceful as an encroaching typhoon, wrung blood from “Choices” and strutted her way through the roadhouse boogie of “Take Me Like I Am.” She also recalled her childhood days spent terrorizing the residents of nearby Muskegon and announced her return to the middling afternoon crowd with a simple statement: “You know I’m home, don’t you?”
Up next on the same stage were Southern rock gods Drive-By Truckers, who backed LaVette on her 2007 disc The Scene of the Crime. It’s safe to say that Truckers singer-guitarist Patterson Hood will be supporting a Democrat in the upcoming election. “Everybody register to vote,” he shouted while introducing a sneering take on “Putting People on the Moon.” “Let’s fire some motherfuckers and tell them to get a real job.” They ripped through the guitar pyrotechnics of “3 Dimes Down” and pulled back for a mournful “A World of Hurt,” but the real highlight came when LaVette joined the Truckers for a smoldering take on “Jealousy” that left the normally verbose Hood speechless. “Bettye left us all a little flabbergasted,” he announced, shaking his head and trying to compose himself.