Thursday, March 30, 2017

Rodney Crowell at City Winery

(l-r) Steuart Smith, Rodney Crowell, John Paul White, Roseanne Cash
Rodney Crowell was born into a musical family in Crosby, Texas. One grandfather led a church choir, the other grandfather was a bluegrass banjo player, his grandmother played guitar, and his father sang semi-professionally at bars and honky tonks. At age 11, Crowell began playing drums in his father's band. In his teen years, Crowell played pop hits and country standards in garage rock bands in Houston. Searching for a musical career in 1972, Crowell moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he found work as a country music songwriter. After a few hits, Crowell played guitar and sang for three years with Emmylou Harris & the Hot Band before resuming his blossoming solo career. His honors include two Grammy awards, an ASCAP lifetime achievement award, and induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and Music City Walk of Fame. Crowell has released 20 solo albums, his most recent being Close Ties, with a release date of March 31, 2017.

Headlining tonight at City Winery, Crowell performed several of his better known songs, but also showcased his new album. His own vocals were unremarkable, so early into the show his focus was on the content of the songs than on his vocal delivery. Crowell poetically arranged clever words and phrases to form bouquets that dug into rich sensibilities while his two musicians provided the country twang. Towards the end of the concert, the energy shifted into high gear as Crowell introduced several guest, starting with John Paul White, formerly of the Civil Wars, who sang "The Once and Future Queen" solo and also joined Crowell on other songs. The second guest, was Crowell's ex-wife, Roseanne Cash, who now lives in New York. Crowell, White and Cash alternated leads and sang harmony on "It Ain't Over Yet", "Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight" and other songs. Lastly, Crowell invited on stage his frequent collaborator, guitarist Steuart Smith. These various collaborations made this Rodney Crowell concert especially memorable.

Visit Rodney Crowell at www.rodneycrowell.com.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

UFO at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill

Phil Mogg
UFO formed in 1969 in London, England, first as Hocus Pocus before taking the name of the local club that broke the band. UFO started as a space rock band but quickly became a hard rock band, and for almost a decade seemed to be the highly-regarded opening act on many bigger hard rock tours. UFO split and reformed repeatedly over the past 48 years, such that 38 musicians can claim that they were members of the band. The band's current lineup consists of vocalist and sole constant member Phil Mogg, lead guitarist Vinnie Moore, keyboardist/rhythm guitarist Paul Raymond, bassist Rob De Luca and drummer Andy Parker. UFO's 20th and most recent album is 2015's A Conspiracy of Stars.

Co-headlining a tour with Saxon, UFO headlined tonight at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, and provided a strong retrospective on the first era of hard rock. The majority of the set consisted of songs from the band's 1970s repertoire, although it also included a handful of songs from more recent albums. Saxon constructed another shade of AC/DC-style rock, but the fabric of UFO's performance approximated the structure of Bad Company's format. Mogg's soulful vocals scaled rhythm and blues-inflected intonations to Moore's dazzling and melodic guitar work. This chemistry powered each song. The songs initially balanced song content and instrumental solos, building gradually to more extended solos towards the end of the set on fan favorites "Rock Bottom" and "Doctor, Doctor." As it was in the late 1970s, so it is in 2017.

Visit U.F.O. at www.ufo-music.info.

Concert setlist
  1. Mother Mary
  2. Long Gone
  3. Run Boy Run
  4. Lights Out
  5. Baby Blue
  6. Let It Roll
  7. Only You Can Rock Me
  8. Burn Your House Down
  9. Too Hot to Handle
  10. Messiah of Love
  11. Love to Love
  12. Rock Bottom

Encore:
  1. Cherry
  2. Doctor Doctor
  3. Shoot Shoot

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Cactus Blossoms at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse

photography by Kevin Yatarola
for Lincoln Center's American Songbook
Page Burkum and his younger brother Jack Torrey (Torrey adopted a stage name when he started performing professionally at age 19) publicly started playing guitar and singing together at campfires when they were youth. As young adults, the two went separate ways in their native Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Torrey played folk music and Burkum played drums in a blues band. They reunited as roommates in the late 2000s and found themselves singing along together to old folk and country music records. In 2010, they started playing those songs live and writing new songs as the Cactus Blossoms. The Cactus Blossoms' second studio album, You're Dreaming, was released on January 22, 2016.

The Cactus Blossoms headlined tonight at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse as part of Lincoln Center's American Songbook series. Backed by bassist Andy Carroll and drummer Chris Hepola, Burkum and Torrey recreated a vintage country sound that spotlighted two-man harmonies. The two vocalists occasionally alternated on singing the verses but nearly always rallied for at least the choruses, if not more. No review could neglect to compare their sound to that of similar sibling acts of the past like the Everly Brothers, the Louvin Brothers, or going even further back, the Delmore Brothers. Yes, these pristine harmonies were front and center, with the musicians adding just enough spark to ignite the drive. These vocals seemed particularly effective on sad country songs, and the Cactus Blossoms seemed to have an extensive catalogue of these. With few frills other than basic instrumentation and precise human voices, the Cactus Blossoms' capture of such rarified simplicity was uncanny.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Molochs at Berlin

Lucas Fitzsimons was born near Buenos Aires, Argentina, and was raised in Los Angeles, California. As a youth, he learned guitar chords on the internet, even though he had no guitar. He returned to Argentina at age 12 and found an old classical guitar in the basement of his family's home. He played it constantly on that trip, and upon his return to Los Angeles immediately bought his own guitar. He played in various bands until in 2013 he formed the garage rock band he called the Molochs. The Molochs' second album, America's Velvet Glory, was released on January 13, 2017. The band presently consists of Fitzsimons on vocals, Ryan Foster on guitar and keyboards, Mateo Leonardo on rhythm guitar, Derek Cowart on bass and Cameron Gartung on drums.

At Berlin, the Molochs played garage rock that sounded like it knew nothing of anything past 1965. Fitzsimons sang and snarled tight mid-tempo pop songs backed by a crude and simple organ and guitar-led accompaniment. It sounded downright primitive, capturing the basic essence of jangly rock and roll melodies with a lazy, hazy thrust. Ten songs later, the listener was forced to return to the 21st century, still humming the catchy melodies that five minutes earlier felt like 50 years ago.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Zombies at the Town Hall

Colin Blunstone
The Zombies formed in 1961 in St Albans, England, when the members were schoolboys. During the British Invasion in 1964, the Zombies became only the second group (after the Beatles) to score a number one hit in the United States; "She's Not There" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. The band hit again with "Tell Her No" in 1965 and "Time of the Season" in 1968, which ironically became popular after the band's 1967 breakup. The Zombies second album, 1968's Odessey and Oracle, was listed on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Beginning in 1991, the Zombies several times reunited briefly and released albums. The band's sixth and most recent album, Still Got That Hunger, was released in 2015.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the album where the Zombies evolved from a pop band to a thinking man's band, the Zombies toured as two incarnations. At the Town Hall tonight, the first half of the show was a smattering of songs from different segments of Zombies history, performed by original vocalist Colin Blunstone and keyboardist Rod Argent, along with the newer members, guitarist Tom Toomey, bassist Jim Rodford (formerly of Argent and the Kinks), and drummer Steve Rodford. For the second half of the program, Blunstone and Argent reunited with two other original Zombies, bassist Chris White and drummer Hugh Grundy, along with keyboardist Darian Sahanaja and vocalist Vivienne Boucherat, to perform the entire Odessey and Oracle album. In brief, Blunstone's vocals soared with passion and Argent's keyboard playing was majestic throughout the evening; with such accomplished talent on display, it hardly mattered which of the two Zombies bands was on stage with them. While the performance was strong, however, much of the material was not. In many ways, the uniqueness of this tour made it monumental, but yet, it was also a reminder that in the early 1960s, bands recorded a lot of filler.

Visit the Zombies at www.thezombiesmusic.com.

Setlist:
Set 1:
  1. I Love You
  2. I Want You Back Again
  3. Moving On
  4. Edge of the Rainbow
  5. She's Coming Home
  6. Tell Her No
  7. You've Really Got a Hold on Me (Smokey Robinson & the Miracles cover) > Bring It On Home to Me (Sam Cooke cover)
  8. Road Runner (Bo Diddley cover)
  9. Just Out of Reach
  10. Chasing the Past
  11. Hold Your Head Up (Argent cover) (>) Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (Johann Sebastian Bach cover)
  12. She's Not There
  13. The Way I Feel Inside (Blunstone and Argent only)

Set 2 Odessey and Oracle:
  1. Care of Cell 44
  2. A Rose for Emily
  3. Maybe After He's Gone
  4. Beechwood Park
  5. Brief Candles (>) Hung Up on a Dream
  6. Changes
  7. I Want Her She Wants Me
  8. This Will Be Our Year
  9. Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)
  10. Friends of Mine
  11. Time of the Season
  12. She's Not There (reprise)

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Allah-Las at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Miles Michaud
Vocalist/rhythm guitarist Miles Michaud frequented Amoeba, the independent record chain store, throughout his high school years in Los Angeles, California. Eventually, he worked there and in 2008 formed the Allah-Las with two co-workers, bassist Spencer Dunham of Los Angeles, and lead guitarist Pedrum Siadatian, a transplant from Salt Lake City, Utah. They recruited a fellow Angelino, drummer Matthew Correia, and started playing together in Dunham's parents' basement. Continually drawing inspiration from mid-1960s garage rock resources, the Allah-Las released a third album, Calico Review, on September 9, 2016.

Headlining tonight at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom, the Allah-Las embraced music trends from some 50 years ago. The Allah-Las revived the harmonies and pop hooks of the British Invasion, the trippy experimental adventurousness of West Coast psychedelic bands, and the jangly guitars of Midwestern lo-fi rockers. While these influences are plentiful in the contemporary indie music scene, the Allah-Las added a wistful, breezy element laced with gentle harmonies that subtly spoke of California pop and soul. Michaud sang most of the songs, but when the others sang, the songs were made from the same patchwork. The performance generally did not race or boom, but wistfully floated on cool laid-back vibes. The hypnotic simplicity of the music was capable of transporting the listener to groovier times and places.

Visit the Allah-Las at www.allah-las.com.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dope at the Highline Ballroom

Edsel Dope
Edsel Dope was born Brian Ebejer in West Palm Beach, Florida, where as a boy he practiced drumming by playing along to his Kiss albums. As an adult, he moved to Las Vegas and New Orleans, finally relocating to New York in 1995 with his older brother Simon. The renamed Edsel Dope started by making music in his bedroom on a computer, then with his brother formed an industrial/nu metal band, Dope, in 1997 in Villa Park, Illinois. While 16 musicians can claim to have been in Dope at some time, the present personnel is vocalist/rhythm guitarist Edsel Dope, lead guitarist Virus, bassist Nikk Dibs and drummer Daniel Fox. Dope's sixth and most recent studio album, Blood Money Part 1, was released on October 28, 2016. Blood Money Part 2 is proposed for release in 2017.

At the Highline Ballroom opening for Combichrist tonight, Dope performed between large LED screens behind them and gushing smoke jets in front of them. Between fast moving swashes of color and pillars of fog, Dope opened with the nu-metal beats of "Violence," crashing together heavy rhythms, scratchy vocals and eerie lead guitar sounds. Fast and furious, the music plowed through new and older songs, many spiced with obscenities or other objectionable lyrics. While the compositions paralleled traditional melodic pop structures, the vocals and the musical delivery were coarse, abrasive and aggressive. The result was a steady stream of well-executed fist-pumping anthems. Dope achieved its highest popularity a decade ago, but the goods have remained intact and could appeal to a new generation of rebellious rockers.

Visit Dope at www.dopearmy.com.

Concert setlist
  1. Violence
  2. Blood Money
  3. 6-6 Sick
  4. Bring It On
  5. Bitch
  6. Take Your Best Shot
  7. Lexipro
  8. My Funeral
  9. Addiction
  10. You Spin Me Round (Dead or Alive cover)
  11. Nothing for Me Here
  12. Rebel Yell (Billy Idol cover)
  13. Die, Boom, Bang, Burn, Fuck (medley)
  14. 1999

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Aaron Lee Tasjan at the Mercury Lounge

Aaron Lee Tasjan grew up in New Albany, Ohio, teaching himself to play guitar at age 11 by learning Oasis songs. By age 16 Tasjan had performed with Peter Yarrow and been the recipient of the Outstanding Guitarist Award in the Essentially Ellington Competition at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. He was offered a full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music following his graduation from high school, but decided instead in 2006 to move to Brooklyn, New York. In New York, Tasjan formed the arena-rock band Semi Precious Weapons, then played in Drivin' N' Cryin', the New York Dolls, alt-country band Everest, and British-roots rock band Alberta Cross, the Madison Square Gardeners, Operation Juliet with Sean Lennon, and most recently with BP Fallon & the Bandits. In 2013 Tasjan moved to East Nashville, Tennessee, to focus on songwriting and a solo career. Tasjan's released his second and most recent album, Silver Tears, on October 28, 2016.

Having played in many area bands, Aaron Lee Tasjan drew fans from different epochs of his past to his concert at the Mercury Lounge tonight. Although his black suit with white stars and his black shirt with white dots made him look like the villain in a future Batman movie, Tasjan's current trajectory leans toward an alt-country sound. Rather than surveying his musical past, Tasjan performed 12 songs from his two solo albums. His songs painted panoramas of people and places, with some lyrics a bit more reflective and others more playful. His storytelling had bite, and was intensified by his crooning tenor and his skillful guitar leads, which together often steered the songs away from folk-country to slightly off-kilter indie rock. The lyrics ranged from light-hearted, romantic and raw angst, and the eclectic musical sounds ranged from twang to psychedelics, and they blended comfortably.

Visit Aaron Lee Tasjan at www.aaronleetasjan.com.

Setlist:
  1. Ready To Die
  2. Hard Life
  3. Dime
  4. Made in America
  5. Little Movies
  6. Memphis Rain
  7. Out Of My Mind
  8. 12 Bar Blues
  9. E.N.S.A.A.T.
  10. Success
  11. The Dangerous Kind
  12. Encore: Lucinda’s Room



Sunday, March 19, 2017

Wilco at the Beacon Theatre

Jeff Tweedy
Jeff Tweedy began playing guitar when he was 12, after a bicycle accident caused him to recover at home in Belleville, Illinois. Two years later, he befriended schoolmate Jay Farrar. In the early 1980s,they played together in a rockabilly band called the Plebes, which became the Primitives in 1984, and evolved into the alternative country band Uncle Tupelo in 1986. Conflicts peaked between Tweedy and Farrar after Uncle Tupelo's fourth studio album, and so in 1994 Ferrar left to form Son Volt and Tweedy gathered the remaining band members and formed Wilco, named after the military and commercial aviation radio voice abbreviation for "will comply." Wilco changed personnel several times, but since 2004 has consisted of original members Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt, along with guitarist Nels Cline, multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone, keyboard player Mikael Jorgensen, and drummer Glenn Kotche. Wilco released its 10th studio album, Schmilco, on September 9, 2016.

Wilco announced four concerts at the Beacon Theatre, and each show was assigned a distinct set list. Amidst forest scenery onstage, the stage lighting often reflected the mood of the song, from very dark and shadowy to a lighter, tentatively hopeful view. Opening the set with "Normal American Kids" and "If I Ever Was a Child," Wilco exhibited its proficiency in folk country roots, but the center of the show seemed to dwell in pop tunes and the end leaned more towards a driving rock that was radically different from where the set began. The final encore, "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" even started with a random cacophony and featured several grungy guitar leads. It takes a fairly open rocker to absorb and appreciate Wilco's eccentricity, such that even the biggest fans may find the entire set challenging, but Wilco performed these diverse sounds well, and Tweedy's vocals proved to be the thread that held it all together.

Visit Wilco at www.wilcoworld.net.

Setlist:
  1. Normal American Kids
  2. If I Ever Was a Child
  3. Cry All Day
  4. Radio Cure
  5. Company in My Back
  6. The Joke Explained
  7. Misunderstood
  8. Someone to Lose
  9. Shouldn't Be Ashamed
  10. At Least That's What You Said
  11. Reservations
  12. Impossible Germany
  13. California Stars (Billy Bragg & Wilco cover)
  14. We Aren't the World (Safety Girl)
  15. Forget the Flowers
  16. Jesus, Etc.
  17. Locator
  18. Dawned on Me
  19. Theologians
  20. I'm the Man Who Loves You
  21. Hummingbird
  22. The Late Greats

Encore:
  1. Random Name Generator
  2. Red-Eyed and Blue
  3. I Got You (At the End of the Century)
  4. Outtasite (Outta Mind)

Encore 2:

  1. Spiders (Kidsmoke)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tibet House US 30th Anniversary Benefit Concert at Carnegie Hall

Patti Smith, Sufjan Stevens, Iggy Pop, New Order, Ben Harper, Alabama Shakes, Laurie Anderson and other artists headlined the Tibet House US 30th Anniversary Benefit Concert at Carnegie Hall on March 16, 2017. Not only was the high profile event a fundraiser for the not-for-profit organization, but the 140-minute concert also celebrated co-founder Philip Glass' 80th birthday.

Composer Philip Glass, actor Richard Gere, and professor Robert Thurman founded Tibet House U.S. in New York City in 1987 at the request of the 14th Dalai Lama. Annual all-star benefit concerts at Carnegie Hall have rallied attention and funds for the organization, which is dedicated to celebrating and preserving Tibetan civilization and culture.

Tibetan monks opened the evening with a chant. Thurman opened the dialogue by wishing Glass a happy birthday and reminded the audience that through this effort, the audience was supporting the Tibetan resistance against China. Several of the performers also peppered political messages throughout the evening. In addition to the monks' chant, Tenzin Choeygal and Jesse Paris Smith introduced Tibetan culture with a composition from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The evening's performances featured several other collaborations, with Philip Glass playing the piano with several artists, Iggy Pop teaming with New Order, the Patti Smith band backing Sufjan Stevens for a a reworded version of "The Star Spangled Banner," and most of the performers joining Patti Smith for the finale. The show also included next generation artists; Glass’ son Zack accompanied himself on acoustic guitar for a song, Ben Harper sang with his teenage daughter Harris, and Patti Smith’s two children, Jesse and Jackson, also performed.

Setlist:
  1. Monks, Chant
  2. Laurie Anderson, "Don't Go Back to Sea"
  3. Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson & the Scorchio Quartet, "Etude no.10"
  4. Zack Glass, "Southern Skies"
  5. Alabama Shakes, "Gimme All Your Love"
  6. Alabama Shakes & Philip Glass, "Over My Head"
  7. Alabama Shakes, Philip Glass & the Scorchio Quartet, "Sound & Color"
  8. Tenzin Choegyal, Jesse Paris Smith & the Scorchio Quartet, "Elemental Prayer"
  9. Tenzin Choegyal, Jesse Paris Smith & the Scorchio Quartet, "Snow Lion"
  10. Ben Harper, "Paris Sunrise #7 > Lifeline"
  11. Ben Harper & the Scorchio Quartet, "Everything"
  12. Iggy Pop, New Order & the Scorchio Quartet, "Stray Dog" (New Order cover)
  13. Iggy Pop, New Order & the Scorchio Quartet, "Shades" (Iggy Pop cover)
  14. Iggy Pop, New Order & the Scorchio Quartet, "She's Lost Control" (Joy Division cover)
  15. Sufjan Stevens, the Patti Smith Band & the Scorchio Quartet, "The Star-Spangled Banner" (John Stafford Smith cover)
  16. Sufjan Stevens, "Happy Birthday Song"
  17. Patti Smith, "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" (Bob Dylan cover)
  18. Patti Smith, "Citizen Ship" (Patti Smith Group song)
  19. Patti Smith & ensemble, "People Have the Power"

Philip Glass
Laurie Anderson
Zach Glass
Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes
Ben Harper and his daughter Harris
Iggy Pop
Sufjan Stevens
Patti Smith & the monks
Iggy Pop, Bernard Sumner of New Order & Patti Smith

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Art Garfunkel at City Winery

In Forest Hills, Queens, Art Garfunkel discovered his love for singing in the first grade, enjoying the echo from the stairwell tiles as he sang "Unchained Melody" and "You'll Never Walk Alone" a cappella. Later, his father bought him a wire recorder and the young Garfunkel spent his afternoons singing, recording, and playing back his vocals so he could listen for flaws and improve. Garfunkel met his future singing partner, Paul Simon, in the sixth grade, when they were both cast in a school play. Between 1956 and 1962, the two performed together as Tom & Jerry, occasionally performing at school dances, but achieved initial success as Simon & Garfunkel when "The Sounds of Silence" went to number one on the Billboard pop charts. The duo split and reunited many times, won Grammy awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Garfunkel's solo career has been intermittent as he has struggled with depression and vocal cord paresis, rendering him unable to sing. He also acted in eight films from 1970's Catch-22 to 2010's The Rebound. His 12th and most recent solo album is 2007's Some Enchanted Evening.

Art Garfunkel headlined two nights at City Winery, and he used the small venue to get candid with his audience. He sang Simon & Garfunkel hits and deep cuts from his solo albums, read prose from his memoirs and spoke about his personal and musical journeys. Accompanied by acoustic guitarist Tab Laven and keyboardist Dave Mackay, Garfunkel's restored tenor and countertenor were crisp, clear and resonant. In Simon & Garfunkel's harmonies, Garfunkel normally sang the higher parts, and that is where he stayed most of the evening, softly singing light and airy melodies that were soothing and safe, very much like lullabies. He sang many of the duo's gentler hits from the 1960s, most of which were written by his former co-vocalist. Garfunkel sang solemn one-man versions of "The Sounds of Silence", "Homeward Bound", "The Boxer", "Scarborough Fair", and "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." The evening was sweet, but probably could have engaged the audience deeper had it been balanced with a harder-edged interlude of "Mrs. Robinson" and "I Am a Rock."

Visit Art Garfunkel at www.artgarfunkel.com.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Beth Hart at the Town Hall

Born in Pasadena, California, Beth Hart started performing her music in Hollywood clubs at age 15, until she discovered the South Central chitlin circuit, where the clubs held performance competitions for cash prizes. By age 19, she held a steady job at a club where she was the only white singer in the club's history. In 1993, Hart had her first national exposure as she rose to win the Female Vocalist competition on television's Star Search. Subsequently, she teamed with Joe Bonamassa, Jeff Beck and Slash, and sang the lead role in Love, Janis, an off-Broadway musical based on Janis Joplin's letters home to her sister. Her greatest exposure, however, came when former president Barak Obama and his wife Michelle gave Hart a standing ovation when she sang Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind" at a 2012 tribute to Buddy Guy at the Kennedy Center Opera House. Hart released her ninth and most recent studio album, Fire on the Floor, on February 3, 2017.

Originally scheduled for mid-February but postponed for medical reasons, Beth Hart once again rose triumphant at the Town Hall tonight. Like the old cliché that says that "you have to suffer if you want to sing the blues," this blues singer spoke to her audience between songs about how she has dealt with bipolarity, substance abuse, eating disorders and several stints in rehabs and psych wards. Backed by guitarist Jon Nichols, bassist Bob Marinelli, drummer Bill Ransom, Hart sang sultry, burnt-honey blues vocals and played jazzy piano melodies when she was not dancing to her more rocking songs or playing acoustic guitar to more sensitive songs. Armed with many originals and a few covers, Hart's passionate vocals brought the blues to rock ‘n’ roll, torch songs and singer-songwriter fare, and also touched lightly on jazz, gospel, and soul. Hart cultivated these ageless music traditions that typically appeal to older audiences, spun them on a new axis, and produced a tasteful performance.

Visit Beth Hart at www.bethhart.com.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Jesse Malin at Berlin

Jesse Malin has devoted nearly three-quarters of his life to rock and roll. Raised in Whitestone, New York, Malin first entered the East Village music scene at age 12, attending the all-ages hardcore punk shows at CBGB's and becoming the vocalist for a hardcore band, Heart Attack. After the band split in 1984, Malin sang with a string of projects while working as a gas station attendant, a health food store clerk and a "man with a van." From 1991 to 1999, Malin tasted nominal success with the glam-punk band D Generation. Malin then sang in several short-lived bands, then went solo in 2001. Malin's most recent albums, New York Before the War and Outsiders, both were released in 2015. Committed to the community where he found his musical calling, Malin is a partner in the Bowery Electric music venue and the Niagara bar in the East Village.

Jesse Malin headlined two nights at Berlin, a rock club he helped launch in 2015. Normally a high-energy performer that makes full use of larger stages, Malin was unable to restrain himself to the venue's small stage and super-bright, super-red lighting; he ventured through the crowded floor space to the other side of the room and stood on top of the bar for a couple of songs. Between songs, Malin spoke about matters close to his heart, and his songs were equally confessional. The music was all about what happens when gut feelings are empowered by rock and roll and vice versa. Malin's performance was a driving expression of the meaning he has found in life, and it was honest and pure. It was no wonder why he sang virtually the entire set with his eyes closed, hugging the microphone stand as if it was his most loyal friend.

Visit Jesse Malin at www.jessemalin.com.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Love Rocks NYC at the Beacon Theatre

Dozens of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers and Grammy Award  winners contributed their talents live when John Varvatos and Greg Williamson presented Love Rocks NYC at the Beacon Theatre on March 9. Sub-billed as A Change Is Gonna Come: Celebrating Songs of Peace, Love and Hope, the all-star concert benefitted God's Love We Deliver. At the concert, the sponsors proposed that this benefit concert would become an annual series.

Spanning rock, pop, blues and soul, the nearly four-hour concert included performances by Joe Walsh, Jackson Browne, Michael McDonald, Gary Clark Jr., Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Dr. John, Warren Haynes, Aaron Neville, Mavis Staples, CeCe Winans, Keb’ Mo, Marc Cohn, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Sam Moore, William Bell, Joan Osborne, Amy Helm, Jackie Greene, Marcus King, and many more. The house band featured Will Lee as musical director, Paul Shaffer, Steve Gadd, Shawn Pelton, Eric Krasno, Larry Campbell,  Jeff Young, and many others. Bill Murray was the master of ceremonies for part of the evening.

God's Love We Deliver is a not-for-profit agency that provides meals and nutrition counseling for homebound New Yorkers. Begun as an HIV/AIDS service organization in 1985, the volunteer-driven staff now annually cooks and home-delivers more than 1.6 million meals to New Yorkers living with 200 different diagnoses.

Visit Love Rocks NYC at www.loverocksnyc.com.

Setlist
  1. Bruce Willis, "Tenth Avenue Tango"
  2. Amy Helm and Jackie Greene, "Yes We Can Can"
  3. Mavis Staples and Amy Helm, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken"
  4. Mavis Staples, "I’ll Take You There"
  5. Keb Mo, "In My Life"
  6. Keb Mo, Tash Neal and Billy Gibbons, "The Thrill is Gone"
  7. Anthony Hamilton and Catherine Russell, "Night Time Is the Right Time"
  8. CeCe Winans, "Hey Devil"
  9. Gary Clark Jr. and William Bell, "Born Under a Bad Sign"
  10. Warren Haynes, "Soulshine"
  11. Warren Haynes, Marcus King and Bruce Willis, "Bring It On Home"
  12. Marc Cohn, "Crazy Love"
  13. Patty Smythe and John McEnroe, "Whole Lotta Love"
  14. Michael McDonald and Catherine Russell, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough"
  15. Sam Moore, "Ain't That Good News"
  16. Sam Moore, Joe Walsh and Bruce Willis, "Soul Man"
  17. Lisa Fischer, "Gimme Shelter"
  18. Gary Clark Jr. and band, "The Healing"
  19. Gary Clark Jr. and band, "When My Train Pulls In"
  20. Jackson Browne, "Runnin’ on Empty"
  21. Jackson Browne, Michael McDonald and Blind Boys of Alabama, "I Shall Be Released"
  22. Blind Boys of Alabama and Aaron Neville, "People Get Ready"
  23. Aaron Neville, "A Change Is Gonna Come"
  24. Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, "Loving You is Sweeter"
  25. Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes, "Space Captain"
  26. Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Sam Moore and Jackie Greene, "Lovelight"
  27. Will Lee and Billy Gibbons, "Get Out of My Life Woman"
  28. Billy Gibbons, "La Grange"
  29. Joe Walsh, "Life’s Been Good"
  30. Dr. John, "Such a Night"
  31. Ensemble, "With a Little Help From My Friends" 
Bruce Willis
Amy Helm and Jackie Greene
Mavis Staples
Billy Gibbons, Keb Mo' and Tash Neal
Anthony Hamilton and Catherine Russell
Cece Winans
Will Lee, Gary Clark Jr. and William Bell
Bruce Willis, Warren Haynes and Marcus King
Marc Cohn
Patty Smythe and John McEnroe
Michael McDonald and Catherine Russell
Joe Walsh, Same Moore and Bruce Willis
Lisa Fischer
Jackson Browne
The Blind Boys of Alabama, Jackson Browne and Michael McDonald
Aaron Neville
Derek Trucks, Will Lee, Susan Tedeschi and Warren Haynes
Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Jackie Greene and Sam Moore
Billy Gibbons and Will Lee
Joe Walsh
Dr. John
Bill Murray
Joan Osborne