Emmylou Harris, from singer to animal rescue activist

| April 03, 2014
Emmylou Harris
  • COURTESY BOB LANOIS
  • Emmylou Harris is performing songs from her seminal album “Wrecking Ball” on her current concert tour.
Emmylou Harris has a lot to be excited about. The silver-haired grande dame of alt-country recently was awarded another Grammy, her 13th, for “Old Yellow Moon,” last year’s duet record with her former guitarist Rodney Crowell.

And she’ll play San Francisco this week with Daniel Lanois, recreating their ethereal 1995 collaboration “Wrecking Ball,” another Grammy winner, which will soon hits shelves in a remastered three-disc edition. (Disc 2 features session demos and outtakes, and the third is a DVD called “Building the Wrecking Ball.”)

But one project is even dearer to her heart — her upcoming third annual Woofstock concert in Tennessee, a benefit for her Bonaparte’s Retreat Dog Rescue.

Harris, who just turned a remarkably-young-looking 67, is still putting Woofstock 2014 together, billed as Emmylou and Friends, and scheduled for June 7.

“Amy Grant is playing with Glory Band, the group that Rodney and I had out, and I’m hoping that Rodney’s going to be able to do it, too,” she says. “And Holly Williams will be there — I’ve got calls into people, so hopefully we’ll have a really rocking lineup.”

Shelter pups will be up for adoption there. “Which is kind of the whole point,” she adds. “We wanted to do a day where people could celebrate their dogs, and what an important part they play in our lives.”

The first Woofstock, in 2012 with Buddy Miller and Shawn Camp, was held in August to honor the original Woodstock. “Now it’s during the CMA Festival, which I think is a good idea,” Harris says.

Indirectly, it began with her beloved poodle mix Bonaparte, a rescue that accompanied her everywhere for 10 years. After his death, the grieving artist couldn’t bear to replace him.

“I wanted to do something in his memory, so I started my rescue and named it Bonaparte’s Retreat,” she says. “But of course, I ended up adopting two dogs that came through my shelter.”

Yet the pair of well-traveled pets won’t be along on this tour, since it’s starting on the West Coast, Harris explains. Plus, she’s intent on capturing the ephemeral magic of her stylistic breakthrough “Wrecking Ball.”

“I think I had just been treading water before that, but the sound and the turbulent rhythms that Dan brought to those songs just took me to another place,” she says.

In the past decade, Bonaparte’s founder has befriended countless like-minded activists, like the Bay Area’s Pali Boucher of Rocket Dog Rescue renown. She also believes that Nashville, Tenn., will soon be a no-kill city.

“For all the things that seem insurmountable in this world, this is something we can actually end, with education, communication and dedication,” she says. “So I hope to one day be put out of business!”

IF YOU GO

Emmylou Harris

Performing “Wrecking Ball” with Daniel Lanois

Where: Warfield, 982 Market St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Tickets: $42.50 to $69.50

Contact: (888) 929-7849, www.axs.com

Tags