Last night I took part in a wonderful celebration of the work of Neil Young, at Molly Malone’s in Hollywood, California. It was everything that these things are supposed to be. And as performers, songwriters, presenters, or simply fans, you should attend these kinds of events.
By showtime, Molly Malone's was packed to the rafters with well wishers, friends and fans of Neil's music. A great sound system perfectly mixed by the veteran sound man, Richard (I never got his last name--a real pro, tho), and an evening of joy and celebration.
Lots of great songs and you have to hear several hours of Neil Young to really get what a great songwriter he is. Back in the day, I was a huge Buffalo Springfield fan and I played their work to death, but mostly focused on Stephen Stills. Now while I am still a fan of his work, particularly the early stuff, I am humbled by how consistent a writer Young has been. And last night just reaffirmed it.
A band led by Daniel L, Andy Hill and Renee Safier (www.andyandrenee.com ) kicked off the evening and it never let up. There was no let up of great talent and great songs. And miraculously, even though it was different singer on every song, there was no lag time. And this ad hoc band backed nearly everyone (there were a few of us soloists, but mostly ensemble work) to perfection. The Academy Awards should flow so smoothly.
The band: Folk/rock duo Andy Hill and Renee Safier with singer/songwriter producer Daniel Leanse, Marty Rifkin (www.martyrifkin.com ) on pedal steel, journeyman bassist Steve Whalen (www.myspace.com/sjwhalen) , Joe Caccavo (guitar, mandolin, banjo) and John Hoke on drums. Vocalists include: James Lee Stanley, Circe Link (www.circelink.com) , Jimmy Miles, Cindy Kalmenson (www.cindykalmenson.net) , Victoria Levy (www.victorialevy.co), Vida Simon (www.vidasimon.com), Caroline Vreeland, Nicole Gordon (www.nicolegordon.net), Brax Cutchin (www.brax.net), Bart Ryan (www.bartryan.com), Dry September’s Dave Tokaji and Elfie Astier-Weiss.
That sense of community that I have talked about in Datamusicata before was there in spades. Everyone was as supportive and nurturing as they could be and all the music came off without a hitch.
One of the reasons you should attend these kinds of events is to meet your peers; see how professionals complement each other ( and I don’t mean, “say that’s a nice hat!”); to see how to make an evening work; how to switch acts seamlessly; how to serve the artists and the songs; and most of all, how to leave your ego at the door.