Review: ‘RIN: Tales From the Life of a Troubadour’ Starring Rinde Eckert at The Kennedy Center

The acclaimed writer, composer, librettist, physician, performer, and director Rinde Eckert delighted and amazed the crowd on Friday evening at the Kennedy Center’s Family Theater. Eckert allowed the audience to enter his seemingly hermetically sealed world of musical language, comedic riffs, rare instrumentals, and anecdotal tales.

Rinde Eckert. Photo courtesy of the Kennedy Center.

Mr. Eckert is the recipient of the Lucille Lortel Award as well as several Drama Desk Awards. He certainly captured the crowd’s attention with amazing verbal wordplay, singing in the highest of registers and playing several musical instruments.

He played an accordion and surprised all with an entrancing chant (rather than the expected polka!) Mr. Eckert’s iconoclastic “performance art” style always produced the unexpected.

As Eckert began his act, he carefully removed his shoes and performed his entire show in his bare feet. In addition to his many other talents, Eckert plays beautifully on the piano.

Eckert played a romantic song and an Irish love song on a mini keyboard that was wrapped around his neck.

Often, Mr. Eckert created his own words. As he chanted, it was a mesmerizing experience.

Rinde Eckert. Photo courtesy of his website.

One of the standouts of Eckert’s act was when he wrapped himself in a big brown piece of paper and spouted bits of gibberish and a strange, guttural language.

On his key board, Eckert sang a vey poetic song with references to animals with the line “The wolf is fading” staying hauntingly in my mind. The keyboard often reminded me of an organ.

With his accordion, Eckert once more amazed with street musician music.

With his guitar, Eckert produced an Irish Hillbilly Sound.

Eckert explicated upon three outfits that he had worn from past shows.

On his electric guitar, Eckert sang the “Song is Blues”.

With his trusty accordion, Eckert sang of the wood dove and the fact that God is in all things.

Eckert played the banjo and he sang movingly of the Catbird – who sings the song that nothing is ours to keep.

Eckert sang a moving prayer for peace at the piano.

For a well-deserved encore, Eckert sang a very poetic song about his lover.

Running Time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.

RIN—Tales from the life of a Troubadour Starring Rinde Eckert was presented on Friday, February 3, 2017 at 7 PM as part of the Renée Fleming VOICES series at the Kennedy Center Family Theater – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For information on future events at the Kennedy Center, go to their calendar.

Excerpt of Rinde Eckert performing his piece And God Created Great Whales:

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David Friscic
David has always had a passionate interest in the arts from acting in professional dinner theatre and community theatre to reviewing film and local theatre in college to making numerous treks to New York City to indulge his interest in live theatre. An enthusiastic interest in writing has shown itself in a BA in English/Education and an MA in English Literature. Taken together, these two interests have culminated in the logical conclusion of writing for an arts blog. David moved up and down the East Coast due to his father's job at General Electric and this has helped him to perceive the world in a very open way. After his schooling, David taught in Catholic school systems for awhile and, then, spent three years in the seminary with two years at Catholic University studying Theology and one year in a practicuum working at a church in New York State. David currently works at the National Science Foundation as a Technical Information Specialist for the Office of Polar Programs and has had the great opportunity to go to Antarctica twice and Greenland once in support of the research community. He enjoys living in Bethesda and has taken courses at the Writer's Center. David enjoys swimming, traveling, reading, and working on committees at his condo. His major interest, however, is the arts and all it encompasses---from symphony, to film, to museum treks to live theatre. He counts having lunch with Lillian Gish and meeting Lily Tomlin, Geraldine Page, Maureen Stapleton, Liza Minnelli and Sandy Dennis as some of the more exciting encounters of his life.