Last week, I made a terrible omission in my column. I was so excited about Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, and wrote so extensively about them, that I completely forgot that we lost a giant last week. David ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards passed away at his Chicago home in the early morning hours of August 29 at the age of 96. Edwards was the last direct link to the pre-war generation of delta bluesmen, and was actually at the roadhouse the night Robert Johnson was poisoned in 1938! His last public performances were last April, and he had just retired in July, after an 80 year career! A two time Grammy winner, Edwards was the real deal. I was fortunate to have seen him perform a few years ago at a Midnight Ramble at Levon Helm’s. He was 93 at the time! His people led him up to the stage that night, seated him in a chair, and placed a vintage Fender in his hands. Seconds later, all hell broke loose! This old man, who could barely walk and probably couldn’t speak or hear too well, let loose a cacophony of notes that cut right through my brain, heart, and body! What tone the man had! What mastery of the instrument he displayed! What a privilege it was to be present at that exact moment! All I could think was, “This guy was there the night Robert Johnson died”! I knew it would probably be the first and only time I would see him perform, and I hung on every note like it was his last! It was the best performance I have ever seen by anyone at a Ramble, and Levon’s band seemed to agree, because their performance that night was also the best I have ever seen from them! It was as if Levon and his band were so inspired by what they had seen and heard from Honeyboy that they reached deep into their souls to pull up the deepest level of playing they were capable of! I was privileged to be there and I will never forget that night! David ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards, Master of the Genre, Bluesman Emeritus, R.I.P.!
Big doin’s this week. Here’s my picks.
Friday, Sept. 16 – Thursday night. Whaddya gonna do? I’ll tell you what you’re gonna do! You’re gonna go straight to The Bearsville Theater to see JIMMY WEIDER AND PERCOLATOR! Jim was in the late model versions of The Band, and is still playing guitar with The Levon Helm Band. Many people have laid claim to the title, Master of the Telecaster, but Jimmy definitely has a legitimate claim to the title. You won’t be bored at this one! And guitarists, you might learn a thing or two tonight! Jim’s website is www.jimweider.com, and he’s also on Facebook, My Space, and You Tube, if you wanna check him out.
Saturday, Sept. 17 – The Party of the Year takes place today, and it’s called LIVESTOCK. It’s an all day/all night soire over in Bovina, and if you go, be ready to have your mind blown! Livestock started in 2003 as a smaller-ish party at the home of John Finn, known to all as Chico, with only four bands. It’s grown to a giant blowout in Finn’s barn, which is a smaller version of The Barn at Levon’s. The four bands have grown to ten or twelve, and in recent years, have included national acts of the caliber of Jim Lauderdale, Dan Baird from The Georgia Satellites, Eric Ambel from The Del-Lords and Steve Earle’s band, Graham Parker, and Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3, who put on a performance worthy of Jimi at Monterey at my first Livestock in 2008 (props going out to guitarist Jason Victor especially)! I did not see any national acts listed on this year’s line up, but I’d bet the talent will still be first rate! You’re not gonna believe how rockin’ Bovina is! It will be loud, it will be late, and it will be great! LIVESTOCK 2011. Don’t miss it! www.livestockmusic.com for schedule and directions.
Of course if your car needs work and you wanna stay closer to home, there’s a Ramble at LEVON’S and The MAHAVISHNU PROJECT is at The Bearsville Theater, performing the classic groundbreaking John McLaughlin album, “Birds of Fire”. Opening this show will be Todd Rundgren’s guitarist, JESSE GRESS, who will be performing a program of the music of Jeff Beck! If you saw Jeff at UPAC last year, but especially if you didn’t, the opening act alone should be worth the price of admission. Let’s hope Jesse includes material from The Yardbirds and “Truth”! If you’re a jazz fusion fan, this show is mandatory!
And if you’re downstate, the popular jam band, WIDESPREAD PANIC, is doing a show at The Williamsburg Waterfront in Brooklyn. You’re going to have to do your own research on this one, because I don’t know if it’s day or night, indoor or outdoor, free or ticketed. The Williamsburg Waterfront Concert series is a series of both free and paid shows that have taken place the last few years. Probably outdoors, so if the weather’s nice, I think it sounds like fun.
Sunday, Sept. 18 – A good place to go tonight is The Bearsville Theater for the ARTIST’S RELIEF CONCERT FOR HURRICANE IRENE VICTIMS! It’s a great cause, your neighbors need your help, and the price of admission is very reasonable. The lineup is fabulous, so go if you can. In the interests of space, I’m not listing the musicians, but it’s all on the Bearsville Theater’s website, www.bearsvilletheater.com.
If you find yourself downstate on Sunday, my pal CHUCK MEAD is starting a rerun of his famous Sunday Night’s at The Rodeo Bar in Manhattan. Chuck is a founding and current member of the extremely influential Americana band, BR 549, but he’s in New York from his home in Nashville in his capacity as Musical Director for the Broadway play, “The Million Dollar Quartet”, which tells the story of the night that Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis got together at Sun Studios in Memphis. To help pass the time, Chuck is doing Sunday nights at The Rodeo Bar for the next three weeks. Chuck is the real thing, an artist of tremendous talent who is in direct line of succession from the immortal country artists of the past, who were actually first rate rockers too, as is Chuck! If you dig old school Country, you will be so happy if you go to this!
Monday, Sept. 19 – A great bluegrass group from the Midwest, THE HENHOUSE PROWLERS, are pullin’ into Manhattan for a few shows this week. The first one’s at the Rodeo Bar tonight, with an encore at Hill Country Barbeque on Wednesday. They’re also playing at The Dancing Cat Distillery in Bethel next Friday. These guys are first rate pickers in the semi-traditional Chicago bluegrass genre, which means the play songs like The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” mixed with more traditional old school bluegrass. Henhouse Prowlers ROCK!
Have a lovely week!