May 4th, 2008
05:53 PM ET

Mother and child reunion, live

Notes from Stagecoach, Day 2:

Relationships between mothers and daughters are often complicated when they're played out in the privacy of their own homes. When those loving, but intense, conflicts are set to song and displayed in front of an audience of about 40,000 people, you have a reunion of The Judds.

Naomi Judd and her daughter Wynonna were the darlings of country music in the '80s and '90s, but stopped touring and recording as a duo in 2000, after Naomi was diagnosed with hepatitis C. Saturday night, they played their first show together in nearly eight years at the Stagecoach music festival in Indio, California. It was an emotional set - kicking off with "Girls Night Out" and finishing with an encore of their signature song, "Love Can Build a Bridge."

"I think my parting words were, 'The show's dedicated to therapists across America,' " Naomi told us aboard her tour bus, still in stage makeup and sparkles after the concert. "Hey, maybe we'll get a free session!"

Naomi is impossibly kewpie doll-cute at 62 - or "sex-ty two," as Wynonna calls it. At 43, Wy continues to be the brassy and strong-willed teenager. Theirs is the classic story of the talented daughter and the charming stage mother who can't seem to cut the cord, try as they might. When the performed together Saturday night, it seemed to re-open - as well as heal - old wounds.

"I'll have to say the pressure today was almost painful, and that's not like me," Naomi confided. "I mean, I used to work in ICU as an R.N. But I do really well when there's a crisis. Hey, I raised Wynonna and Ashley Judd, so nothing scares me anymore!"

The Judds performed half a dozen songs together before Naomi went backstage for a costume change and Wynonna took the stage alone. It was an interesting contrast. Without her mother's taffeta skirt to hide behind, she was less demure, much more raucous and commanding. Even a cover of Foreigner's 1985 pop ballad, "I Want to Know What Love Is," sounded like a gritty gospel-blues sermon delivered from a church somewhere deep in the Delta.

Naomi re-joined her daughter for a handful of songs, including their early hits, "Why Not Me" and "Mama, He's Crazy." After their encore of "Love Can Build a Bridge," they walked off stage, hand-in-hand, visibly moved.

Next Sunday is Mother's Day, and Naomi can already picture the chain of events back home in Tennessee.

"I won't look anything like this," she said, referencing her rhinestone-laced gown. "I'll have on no makeup. Probably elastic-waist pants." She laughed. "Barefoot in the kitchen cooking, and my dogs and my husband - and hopefully, Wy and Ashley."

-– Denise Quan, Music Correspondent/Senior Producer, CNN Entertainment


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