Sunday, June 14, 2015

Everlast at the Bowery Ballroom

Ice-T welcomed Erik Schrody into his Rhyme Syndicate Cartel in the late 1980s and released Schrody's first album as Everlast in 1990. Born in Valley Stream, New York, the Irish-American rapper did not gain national attention until he formed the rap group House of Pain and hit with "Jump Around" in 1992. After three albums, Everlast left in 1996 for a solo career. He suffered a massive cardiac arrest stemming from a congenital defect, resulting in heart bypass surgery and an artificial valve implant. After recovery, recorded his second solo album, eight years after his first; Everlast reinvented himself with the multi-platinum-selling Whitey Ford Sings the Blues in 1998, which combined a largely acoustic base with folk, blues, rap and soul. In 1999, Everlast performed on Santana's Grammy-winning "Put Your Lights On," and later joined La Coka Nostra (2006-2012), but his solo career floundered through five more solo albums. Everlast's seventh and most recent solo album, The Life Acoustic, was released in 2013. He is now based in Los Angeles, California.

At a rare seated concert at the Bowery Ballroom tonight, Everlast was accompanied simply by his acoustic guitar and a keyboardist. The two stools on stage were reserved not for the two musicians to sit, but one for Everlast's hard liquor and the other for his bottled water. Singing in a gravelly Tom Waits-styled rasp, Everlast tackled an acoustic set that was inspired by elements of folk, blues, and country. Despite his hip-hop roots, a mellower Everlast performed a lengthy block of deeply emotional ballads. On his older songs, while he faintly maintained the cadence of hip hop, parts that had once been rapped were now sung. The audience's acceptance of this transition to the new Everlast became pronounced when he received encouraging applause for his sweet take on Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues." Nevertheless, although House of Pain seems to be long in his past in favor of this softer acoustic approach, by the end of the set Everlast was still able to get his fans to "Jump Around."

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