Another concert crossed off my bucket list. Willie Nile is pure rock and roll.
I’ve wanted to see Willie Nile since he was first playing in the Village in the late 1970s/early 1980s and I heard his first album. Why didn’t I? I have no idea. I do know it was difficult to keep up with what he was doing because he’d drop out of sight and suddenly there he was and then, no, he was gone again.
There was no opener. Willie Nile and his band came on stage, Nile announced that the performance was dedicated to Levon Helm and they were off. One new song “American Ride” is in the tradition of Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” Ochs’ “Power and the Glory,” and Simon’s “American Tune.” I’m a sucker for a folk/rock song that celebrates the beauty of my country but also doesn’t mind telling the truth.
Whenever Nile performed a new song he told the audience that they could record it but he asked that they not put it up on YouTube because he wanted the songs to sound fresh when people bought the new album. He said that he made that request all over Spain and the UK where they had just toured and people were ‘righteous’ and did not put the videos online.
We heard old songs like “Streets of New York,” recent songs like “House of a Thousand Guitars,” new songs like “One Guitar” and “The Innocent Ones” and covers of “I’m Gonna Love You Too,” “Hard Day’s Night,” and “Satisfaction.”
Nile is all over the place – emoting and dancing to the songs and jumping around. He doesn’t stand still. Guitarist Matt Hogan is young – he didn’t know the chords to “I’m Gonna Love You Too” but he still played a great solo and all his solos had just the right amount of notes. Drummer Alex Alexander kept a steady beat and bassist Johnny Pisano lent great backing vocals and a great back beat. For “Satisfaction” this kid came on stage and then a young girl. Nile handed his guitar to the kid to play while he wandered around the room. I think they were all Pisano’s family.
When I first got there I saw this man sit at a nearby table. I knew he was someone – there was an aura about him. Nile invited him onstage to play guitar with them at the end. It was James Maddock. Maddock looked like he was having the time of his life up there.
Unsteady Freddie, who puts together surf music shows and sees more concerts than I do, put up some videos of the show. I’m not linking because he put up “Singin’ Bell,” which is one of the new songs. But he also has photos of himself with Robert Gordon (who I’m sorry I missed) at Bowery Electric and who else was there? James Maddock.
There were a few white-haired grandparent-like people up near the stage and they were rocking and singing along – they were probably at the Robert Gordon show also. It’s a great time for music for all of us old-timers who hung out at CBGBs and clubs in the Village.
By Carene Lydia Lopez