James Taylor is a great performer pretty much wherever you see him, but something special happens when he plays outdoors.
Maybe it's because his warm voice seems so natural. Or because his storytelling often makes even the largest amphitheater feel like a campfire sing-along.
In any case, with Taylor, 66, set to make his first Nikon at Jones Beach Theater appearance since 2008, here's a handy guide of things to watch for during his show:
THE NEW STUFF
Taylor has spent the last two years or so focusing on a new album, and he's trying out two songs on this tour. He has been describing "Today, Today, Today" as "a new tune, though it sounds like the old ones." The ballad "You and I" is a bit more ambitious.
Taylor has been telling the story of how "Something in the Way She Moves" was born and how he auditioned for The Beatles with it to land his deal with their Apple Records. The Wichita Eagle quoted him explaining the song as not his first song, but "it's the earliest song I'm willing to do in public."
Yeah, yeah, who looks forward to an intermission? Well, on several stops on the current tour, Taylor has been mingling with the crowd during the 20-minute break between sets and signing autographs. By the way, there's no opening act, so plan on being on time.
Following Gerry Goffin's death last month in Los Angeles, Taylor has been paying tribute to the Brooklyn native and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who became part of the Brill Building songwriters with his partner Carole King. Taylor has been recently dedicating the hits "Up on the Roof" and "You've Got a Friend," which Goffin co-wrote, to the songwriter.
THE NEXT GENERATION
We already know about Taylor's talented son, Ben, and daughter, Sally, both singer- songwriters in their own rights. However, the current tour marks the singing debut of Taylor's 13-year-old son Henry, who handles backing vocals in the band occasionally during the encores.
WHO James Taylor
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh
INFO $58-$248; 866-558-8468, livenation.com