Take Five: Five questions with Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge has made the Berkshires popular music scene a haunt of hers recently. The Grammy and Academy Award-winning rocker played at Tanglewood last summer and at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in 2016. On Sunday, June 10, she will return to the Mahaiwe, beginning a multi-month tour that follows the 30th anniversary of her self-titled debut album. Etheridge answered five questions by phone before she hit the road:

1. How are you crafting the set lists for this upcoming tour?

This is the rock show, so I start with the five or six hits that people want to hear every night, the ones that I'm so grateful to have and experience with my audience over the years: "Come to My Window," "Bring Me Some Water," "I'm the Only One" — those songs that we love to do. Then I look at, OK, when was the last time I played this venue? I look at the songs I played then, and I try to give [the audience] new songs that they haven't heard from deep tracks from the first three or four albums. ... I try to throw in, maybe, a "Memphis Rock and Soul" song. I look at the venue. Is it a sitting venue? Is it a standing, crazy venue? A lot of considerations go into what the set list is.

2. What's your routine before a show?

The whole day becomes routine because I get into a rhythm. After a show, we drive all night, and I get into the hotel. I do my thing that day until it's time to leave for sound check, and I do sound check, and then dinner, and then I get to do hair and makeup, and then I do meet-and-greet, and then I have 30 minutes before the show. It's very routine. There are no surprises that way, and it always leaves me relaxed [going] into my show.

3. What's the largest puzzle you've ever finished?

I did a 2,000-piece puzzle one year, one of those big, humongous ones. I had my whole table in my library [covered]. In the end, I was missing two pieces, and I just about screamed. That was the biggest. ... It was [a puzzle of] all the antique Coca-Cola things.

4. How many succulents do you have in your garden?

I've lost count. It's out of control. I started a few years ago with just a couple, and it's just grown. I start seeing things around my house. I think, 'Oh, I can put a hole in the bottom of that, and I can plant a plant in it.' So, I keep doing that. I keep getting more plants. And succulents, you can just take a cutting of it and create a whole new plant. It's never-ending, and it's quite addictive. I at least have 100 plants, at least.

5. What are you most looking forward to on this tour?

I always love connecting with my audience. I love that moment you step out onstage, and I share the songs with them, songs that have meant something in their life. I take them to a place away from their concerns and troubles and stresses and provide relief for a couple of hours and maybe leave them with a little more hope and feelin' better about themselves. That's what I enjoy.

Benjamin Cassidy can be reached at bcassidy@berkshireeagle.com, at @bybencassidy on Twitter and 413-496-6251.


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