Friday, November 19, 2010

The Darkness Long On Players (On) The Edge Of Town

This weekend I'm involved in a really cool project. There is a band here in town called The Long Players, made up of a bunch of A-List veteran Nashville players. Core guys - Bill Lloyd, Steve Allen, Steve Ebe, John Deadrick, and Brad Jones. As The Long Players, they assemble to do album tribute shows - 47 since 2004, I believe. 2 months ago, they did "Exile On Main Street" with none other than Bobby Keys on sax. Their bass player Brad took over from the original bassist when he moved out of town 3 years ago. Garry Tallent. Yeah, that Garry Tallent. This weekend, The Long Players are doing Bruce Springsteen's "Darkness On The Edge Of Town". And I'm singing in it!

As those of you who know me know, I am a completely delirious, unjustifiably ridiculous Bruce Springsteen fanatic. While Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt's muses may in fact be closer to God than anywhere I'll ever visit, Bruce Springsteen's rest in our unique earthly orbit, and musically and spiritually they permeate every single artistic thing I seem to believe in. I've seen him in concert something like 11 times. I would likely have seen him more times, but until I finally had the opportunity, he hadn't really toured in any capacity that I could attend since the '80's, when I was still a child, and hadn't really grown into him yet. The first time I saw him was when he did a 15 night stand at The Meadowlands in July/August 1999. I went 4 nights. 3 were in one week.

I've grown up some since then - meaning I spend less money on concert tickets - but I have been psyched like a teenager for this show since I got the call 2 weeks ago. Last night at the rehearsal, the reminder I'd set on my phone for the show - before I was even in the show - went off right as we were starting. Is this crazy? Sometimes you just have to remember the reasons you devoted your life to music, and surrender fully to the joy. Not surprisingly, the rehearsal itself last night was one of those moments! I was telling Kim right beforehand that I didn't know the last time I was as excited for a rehearsal. I love rehearsing with my band, it's very fulfilling and is always time well spent. You learn a lot, and you get better. But...I was practically as pumped for this rehearsal as I have been for the show itself tomorrow night. I slept for only two hours the night before (for other reasons), but went on pure adrenaline. I'm almost afraid I blew my load too early, and might not have another level to go to tomorrow night!

I guess its likely that won't be a problem. One of the other reasons I'm excited about this show, though, is it's a great hang, and a great opportunity. I got involved in this sort of thing back in Austin, too, with a bunch of guys called Will Taylor and Strings Attached. Through it, I met and started working with a whole new network of people. It opened up a lot for me, things that wouldn't have happened otherwise. A bunch of new friends, a bunch of new people in the audiences. I enjoyed everything in Austin more. Looking back, my last few years in Austin were definitely my happiest years in Austin - for a few reasons, obviously. That wasn't all of it, but it certainly contributed to the picture.

Anyway...needless to say, if you can come to the show this Saturday night at Mercy Lounge (March 20) - you should. 10% of the door goes to a selected local charity. The band is so spot on, and I feel practically every singer involved will be unleashing at least part of their inner teenage fist clenching, heart thumping, boundary breakin'....EARTH QUAKIN', HISTORY MAKIN', self.

If you missed it, check out Bruce with The Roots on Jimmy Fallon, I've been buzzing on this performance for 2 days. What intensity. ?uestlove - Jesus, man! Sit through the 30 second commercial, it's worth it.

Also below is something from print the day after the show.

Backing Bruce Springsteen on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon Tuesday night was a near-surreal experience for The Roots drummer ?uestlove. "During rehearsal, when the producer said, 'Ladies and gentleman, 'Because The Night' with the Professor and Little Steven, here's Bruce Springsteen and The Roots' — I couldn't move," ?uestlove tells Rolling Stone. "And they were looking at me like, 'Okay count the song off.' And I was like, I said, 'Holy shit. I heard that.'"

He adds: "I mean, I've done some intense playing on our show, but that was the most intense playing I've ever done. He completely surpassed any expectation I've ever had for any mythical god of rock figure."

In a rare talk show appearance to promote the new Darkness on the Edge of Town box set, Springsteen chatted with Fallon on the couch about everything from his brother-in-law to the setbacks of new technology. Alongside The Roots and E Street band members Steven Van Zandt and keyboardist Roy Bittan, he ripped through five-minute takes of rockers "Because the Night" and "Save My Love" — and hilariously dressed up as himself circa 1975 for his own take on Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair."

Before the show, the band rehearsed for 90 minutes, running through "Because the Night" six times and "Save My Love" four times. "[Bruce] was just like, 'Hey, you do what you do,'" ?uestlove says. "'I don't want you to be Max Weinberg. I want you to be you.'"

But soon, during a take of "Because the Night," the drummer got found himself in one of Max Weinberg's familiar dilemmas. "Bruce and Little Steven were giving me the exact opposite instructions — It was kind of like good cop, bad cop," he says.

Check out the exclusive Rolling Stone Q&A with Springsteen

"There's a moment on the bridge where Bruce said, 'You got to watch Steven's body language. He will come over, bend his knees — that means to bring the dynamics down. Play to a whisper," he adds. "But then two seconds later during the song Springsteen's looking at me like, 'Yo man,' jumping up and down and Steven is like on his knees. My band's laughing at me because they know exactly, you know, the type of quagmire I'm in right now. One guy is telling me he wants to see blood drawn because he wants me to play real powerful and the other one wants me to bring it down a little bit."

He met them in the middle. But on TV, nothing was brought to a whisper. And just as Springsteen has been known to do in arenas, the band went over their allotted set time. "If you look at the last 20 seconds [of "Because the Night"], all of us are literally in a circle. It's like no one else is in that room except Little Steven, the Professor, Bruce, and all seven of my guys," says ?uestlove. "We're totally disregarding the minute mark and the deadline. I'm surprised they got it all on there 'cause Lord knows we went 32 bars over. We were supposed to end after the end of the bridge, but we just kept going. None of that stuff was expected — the guitar solo."

But "Whip My Hair" will be the moment fans remember the most — Springsteen decked out in his classic beard, sunglasses and leather jacket while Jimmy Fallon is dressed as a 1970-era Neil Young, duetting on Willow Smith's viral hit. It was Fallon's idea, but "[Bruce] was absolutely game for it, especially dressing up as his 1975 self," says ?uestlove.

He's silent for moment. "I just got a text from Jay-Z saying he's watching right now and it's incredible."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hallowe'en and The Who

I hope you all had a fun hallowe'en. Ours was good - in one of the more rare occurrences of my life, I actually dressed up in costume. I didn't go all out - no makeup or wig (you need to plan more than 3 hours ahead for that), but I still made the effort. I was Dio.

Or can't you tell...

It was fun, we blasted Neon Knights all the way to the Grace Potter show we attended. Kudos to Grace and co, they did a great show, one that it turns out was their tour finale. They dressed up for hallowe'en, too:

The whole show had a 'sense of occasion' vibe about it, which made it special. Kim, as usual, put a bit more thought and planning into her costume, so consequently we were Dio and a much more badass ladybug.

Good times!

Last night I was watching a thing on TV with some footage from one of the great rock performances of all times: The Who, at The Concert For New York City. It's something I've had on audio for years, but haven't seen since that night. This was one month after 9/11, and truly, as far as all time most memorable performances...I mean....Hendrix at Monterey, Dylan at Newport...whatever your poison, this is a performance to behold, and community at its finest. Everyone was happy for the first time in their new lives. Daltry, Entwistle, Zak Starkey were all on their A game, but Townsend - my god - he was possessed by something that night I don't know if I'll ever understand. I don't know if I've ever been as close to tears watching a man play guitar in my life - and this is 9 years removed from all the emotion of that time. Attacking his guitar like a goddamn F-11. You want to talk about the healing power of rock and roll, you need not look any further than this, and the faces of those heroes in attendance. There will never be another night quite like that, and there will never be another band like The Who.

And the thing that made me smile at the end, as it all came to a close, was looking down on the stage in front of Pete. 2 pedals. A cord going in, a cord connecting them, and a cord going to the amp. Woohoo!

For your viewing pleasure, here is the entire 4 song performance. I don't remember where it was in the running order of the night, but it is certainly the moment that no-one who saw it will ever forget.

Who Are You...

Baba O'Reiley...

Behind Blue Eyes...

Won't Get Fooled Again...

Long live rock!