Posts Tagged ‘Willie Nile’

When an artist receives any kind of tribute treatment, it’s generally a sign of some well-deserved recognition. It means that the music has become so iconic, reverence is readily assured. Likewise, when a salute of that sort spans two discs, it’s also evident that there’s plenty of source material that can be considered.  Not surprisingly then, the iconic rocker Willie Nile gave the musicians that contribute to his particular tribute, Willie Nile Uncovered, plenty of songs to choose from. Nile, whose career was originally spawned during the Greenwich village folk scene of the mid to late ‘70s, eventually turned his gaze towards the insurgent sounds that drew Springsteen, Patti Smith, Elliott Murphy, and various arch denizens of his city’s post-punk scene.

That said, the music represented here is strikingly diverse, whether it’s Emily Duff’s take on the celebratory sing-along “Hell Yeah,” the appropriate Band-like sound given Quarter Horse’ read of “When Levon Sings,” the tender tones of James Maddocks’ version of “She’s Got My Heart,” or, naturally enough, the rousing revelry found in Nils Lofgren’s performance of “All God’s Children

A varied list of rock, folk and Americana luminaries take part — which, aside from those mentioned above, include Graham Parker, John Gorka, Caroline Doctorow, Slaid Cleaves, Richard Shindell, Richard Barone and Lucy Kaplinsky — and they not only offer appropriate homage, but also ensure that the appreciation Nile so decidedly deserves is served up quite sufficiently.

“The subtitle to this 2 CD set of songs of native New Yorker Willie Nile is ‘Celebrating 40 Years of Music.’  26 sterling interpretations of his oeuvre have resulted in one of the most playable and entertaining tribute album in years.  Incorporating Americana, roots rock, folk rock, country rock and the kind of singer-songwriter smarts that a fella named Bruce pioneered just over the Hudson River on the Jersey side, there are no clinkers. Not one… So many highlights!” – Mike Greenblatt- Goldmine Magazine, November 2020.

“…it’s consistently excellent…it’s a dependably absorbing listen”. Hal Horowitz – American Songwriter – 8/20/20

“The range of Willie’s music has been captured brilliantly on Willie Nile Uncovered… It’s been lovingly packaged with complete credits and extensive liner notes… The album reveals the richness of Willie’s catalogue… Thanks to Willie for his unwavering rock & roll heart and thanks to Paradiddle for giving Willie his due.” – John Platt – New Folk Initiative – 8/28/20

“An effort with something for everyone, Americana, rock, folk, country and roots rock are all explored here and interpreted in thoughtful, exciting ways that certainly puts Nile’s work at the highest regard.” – Take Effect – 8/30/20

“A delightful compilation by many. Willie Nile has great friends. John Apice – Americana Highways – 8-20-20

 “…all of the contributing artists bring something fresh to the material while remaining true to its spirit. The album will likely make you want to explore Nile’s recordings and also investigate some of the folks who cover them here.” – Jeff Burger – Americana Highways August 2nd, 2020 & TMR August 5th, 2020      

“It’s an extraordinary tribute that gives justice to the brilliant Willie Nile catalogue.” —6/30/2020 – Norm Prusslin, co-founder of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame – New Jersey Stage

At some point in the future there’s going to be a big party in New York and it may well be revolving around a musician named Willie Nile and his new album “New York At Night”.  Written and recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic crisis lockdown happened, here Willie celebrates The Big Apple in all its glory. And that passion is what New Yorkers will to need when all this pandemic madness is under control. 

“New York At Night” released in May 2020 and I do hope that people find inspiration in it. I have to say Nile who still proudly holds on to his New Jersey roots even after 30-plus years in California (and several months in locked down isolation!).  Willie’s music has a distinctly East Coast vibe which frankly we could use some of out here on the West Coast. How about Willie and his band opening up for Bruce’s next tour? That’d be a great double bill! If you’re not familiar with Willie Nile’s music, you need to get onboard.

That said, on New York At Night Willie Nile continues his home-run-hitting string of great albums that mine that well worn corner of pure Rock and Roll and street-wise soul spirit. 

And it is just what the Doctor ordered…True to form, this is a classic Willie Nile sound with twanging electric guitars, hook-filled choruses plus rocking riffs that bridge the gap between the Stones and Springsteen. That was never more evident on “The Fool Who Drank The Ocean” which grabs the essence of The Stones’ “Live With Me” and takes on a rich ride around New York’s dark side. “Lost And Lonely World” is one of those songs based on those classic chords used on a bazillion other rock and pop music hits, yet once again Willie has overlaid a great melody and ear-worm worthy hook chorus to make it his own.    

For me, the heart and soul of “New York At Night” is a track I suspect would be at the end of Side One of the vinyl LP version.  “A Little Bit Of Love” is one of those epic sing-a-long anthems you can’t help chiming in on at first listen. “The time has come to the land of need, enough of anger, hate and greed… you and I can plant the seed”  

“Run Free” feels like what might have happened had U2 come out of New Jersey — where the streets all have names –replete with glorious Gospel-like choral voices taking that song out like a sweet muscle car speeding through the Holland Tunnel into Manhattan. 

You can of course look for Willie’s new album out on CD and on vinyl (click on any of the titles here in this review to jump Willie’s page on Amazon ). When I get my hands on the on the latter I’ll be sure update to update this review. But for now it just feels good knowing some strong new rock ‘n’ roll is out there to help us get through these supremely surreal difficult times.

Willie has also written a song just for the Covid-19 crisis which he has posted on his Facebook page: “Occupy Your House”  delivering the poignant messageYou can have your rock, you can have your roll… you can save your immortal soul.” As Willie says in the video:  “keep your chin up, we can do this…”

When we are all safe and ready to party on the streets, Willie Nile’s “New York At Night” will be a big part of that joyous soundtrack.  Turn it up!

“New York at Night” is the 13th studio album from veteran rock ‘n’ roll troubadour Willie Nile, and the strongest manifestation to date of his deep affinity for the city. The album’s 12 new originals exemplify the artist’s trademark mix of romance, idealism, humour, emotional urgency and a true believer’s passionate embrace of all things rock ‘n’ roll. This affectionate tribute from the veteran singer-songwriter was released even as the city itself often resembled something of a ghost town due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The record celebrates family, unity and the city Nile has called home since the early 1970s

New Yorker Magazine has described Willie as “One of the most brilliant singer-songwriters of the past 30 years”, and Uncut Magazine dubbed him the unofficial poet laureate of New York City.Nile says the idea for the name, “New York at Night”, came to him one Friday night in the summer of 2018, when he was walking alone near Times Square to catch a subway. When he got on the train he saw a man all covered in thick whipped cream. After he exited the train he saw all sorts of characters on the street in Greenwich Village. As he continued his walk home, he thought “New York at night, wow, what a name for a song”. After he got home he picked up his guitar and wrote the song. Most of the songs are New York inspired but it is not a concept album.  Nile says “What all the songs on this album have in common is that they reflect my life and experiences living in New York.”

Nile first recorded “Run Free” in 2003 with his band, at the time, The Worry Dolls, but it was never previously released. “Surrender the Moon” is a song started by Nile’s brother John Noonan who died a year after starting the song in 2007. Nile finished the song for this album. Nile co-wrote “New York is Rockin'” with Curtis Stigers for Stigers’ 1995 album Time Was.

In February 2020 Nile announced plans to release his 13th studio album in 2020. On his own website he took advance orders for digital downloads, CDs, signed lyrics and other merchandise to raise funds to produce the album.  In a March 2020 interview by Jam Band News, Nile said ““I like the independent world.” “There are no constraints and you can work at your own speed. I’ve no complaints about having been on major labels. I was on two of them and I was able to do what I wanted to do.

But things have changed so much in the music business that being independent allows for so many more options.”[5] Nile has employed similar crowdfunding campaigns for five of his previous albums.

Released on May 15th, 2020 by River House Records

Title track off ‘New York At Night’

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On November 22nd, 2009 Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band brought the memorable Working On A Dream Tour to a close at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo. The show would be the last saxophonist Clarence Clemons would play with the band before his 2011 death. Springsteen has opened the vault to release an official recording of the show via his official website.

The Boss played a number of his classic albums in their entirety over the course of the Working On A Dream Tour. In Buffalo the band treated fans to a complete performance of Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ. This led to a pair as bust outs as Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band played “Mary Queen Of Arkansas” for the first time since 2002 and “The Angel” for the first time since 1996. “This was the miracle,” he said during the show. “This was the record that took us from way below zero to … one.” Springsteen dedicated the performance to his former manager Mike Appel, who was in attendance, for making his successful audition with Columbia Records happen. During “Growin’ Up,” Springsteen broke the song down and recalled the night in 1971 when he first performed with Clarence Clemons at the Student Prince in Asbury Park. Then he metaphorically described what happened next, a late-night drive through the woods in a Cadillac followed by a long dream. “And when we woke up,” he concluded, “we were in f—in’ Buffalo, New York.”

Clarence  died on June 18th, 2011 after having suffered a stroke a week earlier.
The concert also fell on guitarist Steve Van Zandt‘s birthday, and Springsteen indulged his friend by breaking out the world premiere of “Restless Nights,” a outtake from the “River” and one of Van Zandt’s favorite Springsteen songs. This was followed by “Happy Birthday” and Working on a Dream’s “Surprise, Surprise.”

Springsteen dug deep to close the tour with a 34-song performance that included holiday gems “Merry Christmas, Baby” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.” The former was played for the first time since 2004. Bruce offered the live debut of The River outtake “Restless Night,” purportedly by request of guitarist Steve Van Zandt. The show ended with a lengthy encore that included a guest appearance from Willie Nile on “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher.”

Live.BruceSpringsteen.net has got one more from the archives: the tour-closer from the “Working On A Dream” Tour on November. 22nd, 2009 in Buffalo includes a complete performance of Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ and several rarities. This was Clarence Clemons’ last show with the E Street Band.

Head to Live.Brucespringsteen.net to purchase the archival release in a variety of formats.

bruce-springsteen

Bruce Springsteen hasn’t played a full-length concert in New Jersey since September 2012. That’s a long gap for him, and his most ardent fans have felt the lack,

He did show up at the Light of Day festival last year, though, and did so again this year, at the event’s main concert at the 1,600-seat Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, Saturday night. And, more so than at any of the previous annual festivals (he has appeared, unannounced though not unanticipated, at 11 of the 15 Parkinson’s disease research fundraisers), his set approximated the length and scope of one of his regular concerts.

He took the stage shortly before midnight, and stayed there for about an hour and 50 minutes. And that’s not counting his guest appearances earlier in the evening, with LaBamba’s Big Band and Willie Nile. All in all, he probably performed for about 2½ hours.

During his own set, he sang both classics (“Thunder Road,” “The Promised Land,” “Darkness on the Edge of Town”) and rarities (“Hearts of Stone,” “Save My Love,” “Frankie Fell in Love”). He opened with a tender solo acoustic version of “Janey, Don’t You Lose Heart,” but Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers backed him after that, and proved nearly as versatile as the E Street Band itself, excelling at everything from the brooding “Racing in the Street” to the upbeat, Chuck Berry-influenced “From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)” and scorching rock songs such as “Adam Raised a Cain” and “Because the Night.”

Springsteen worked the crowd like a gospel preacher during “Savin’ Up” (“When Jesus comes back, he’s gonna want to know how much you got in your love account, not your savings account!”), and he and Grushecky traded wry jokes on the Grushecky-written “Still Look Good (for 60).”

Festival founder and organizer Bob Benjamin, a rock artists’ manager who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, joined Springsteen onstage at 1:30 a.m. Springsteen, after expressing his admiration for how Benjamin has transformed Light of Day from a local event into a global one (there have been Light of Day shows in Canada, Europe and Australia), talked about what attracts him to festival, year after year. It’s the cause, of course (the shows have raised about $3 million), but also the “brotherhood and sisterhood” of the musicians – now, literally, hundreds of them – who volunteer their services, he said. He comes “to feel that thing,” he said, and told Benjamin that is “the gift that you give us every year.”

“See ya next year,” he said when the concert finally ended, at 1:40 a.m.

There have been more than 40 Light of Day events over the last 11 days, mostly in Asbury Park but also in Montclair, Burlington and New York. The Paramount show lasted more than seven hours, with band sets plus short acoustic sets (as the next band set up). Standout performers included Willie Nile, James Maddock, Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens (performing solo) and John Eddie. A nice bonus for fans of Jersey Shore rock was a reunion of Peter Scherer, Gordon Brown and Rob Tanico, who sang together in the Shore bands Mr. Reality, Highway 9 and Samhill, and played at the first Light of Day show, in 2000. They sang Mr. Reality’s “In My Yard” after Brown’s acoustic set with his current duo, Williams Honor.

LaBamba’s Big Band, the 20-piece group led by former Asbury Juke and current Conan O’Brien house band member Richie “LaBamba” Rosenberg, was the evening’s nominal headliner, though they were slotted before Grushecky, for obvious reasons. And they suffered from some bad luck. Gary U.S. Bonds, one of the vocalists who were planning to perform with them, was sick, and couldn’t make it. Southside Johnny, the other, was having some vocal problems, and sounded hoarser than usual. So they did the obvious thing, asking Springsteen to help them out, and the Boss obliged.

The high-spirited but sloppy results were in sharp contrast to the sustained intensity of the Grushecky set. Springsteen played guitar on the Joe Cocker signature song “The Letter”; Southside Johnny sang it, but his voice was really in bad shape at this point (it got better later). Springsteen took over lead vocals for “This Little Girl” (which he wrote for Bonds) after confessing he wasn’t sure he still remembered the words, and he and Southside Johnny dueted on “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.” “It took two of us to (screw) that completely up,” Springsteen joked afterwards.

Another duet, “I Don’t Want to Go Home,” was more successful, though Southside Johnny felt the need to make one more self-deprecating comment at the end of the set. Springsteen came to the Paramount to see monster movies when he was growing up, Southside Johnny said, “and we’re seeing one now.”

Setlist:

Light of Day, Asbury Park17.01.2015
1. One Guitar (with Willie Nile)
3. This Little Girl is Mine (with Southside Johnny and La Bamba’s Big Band)
4. Higher and Higher (with Southside Johnny and La Bamba’s Big Band)
5. I Don’t Want To Go Home (with Southside Johnny and La Bamba’s Big Band)
6. Janey Don’t Lose Your Heart (solo acoustic)
7. Adam Raised A Cain (with Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers)
8. Savin’ Up (with Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers)
9. From Small Things (with Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers)
10. Joe Grushecky – Never Be Enough Time (with Bruce and The Houserockers)
11. Racing In The Streets ’78 (with Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers)
12. Pumping Iron (with Danny Clinch, Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers)
13. Darkness On The Edge of Town (with Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers)
14. Bruce and Joe Grushecky duet – I Still Look For 60 (with The Houserockers)
15. Frankie Fell In Love (with Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers)
16. Hearts of Stone (with Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers)
17. Save My Love (with Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers)
18. Bruce and Joe Grushecky duet – Talking To The King (with The Houserockers)
19. Because The Night (with Joe Grushecky, The Houserockers, Willie Nile, John Eddie and Garland Jeffreys)
20. Light of Day (with full stage)
21. Thunder Road (with full stage)
22. Promised Land (full stage)