Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Now Playing: John Martyn - Rock Goes To College October 20, 1978 - It's One World, Like It Or Not

Flickering on the flat screen in the ‘rock room’ today is a wonderful audio visual document featuring John Martyn playing on the BBC series Rock Goes to College. Played and broadcast from Reading University on October 20, 1978, the performance features a 40 minute solo show by Martyn in support of his 1977 LP One World. The entire performance was been released officially in 2006 on the DVD John Martyn at the BBC.

The college crowd is raucous and it is a testament to Martyn’s power, ‘grace and danger’ that he brings the assembled crowd to complete silence during a number of his songs. Only the man and his guitar is spotlighted in this performance.The broadcast opens with an already in progress, ‘May You Never’ (a song also covered by Eric Clapton for his Slowhand album). The song is one of Martyn’s most beloved and well known tracks and here it is given a percussive and swinging acoustic groove by Martyn’s snappy strumming patterns. Following a round of applause for the familiar number and the MC’s introduction, Martyn gathers his electric Gibson SG guitar.

In a spectacular contrast Martyn chooses to play ‘One World’ next, the title track from his most recent LP release. Contextually and lyrically, a simple request, ‘One World’  is a gentle reminder that regardless of personal beliefs we are all together on this spinning blue ball like it or not. While the studio recording is an atmospheric bird-eye view of the earth, here in live performance everything is played and morphed by Martyn and his electric guitar and his series of pedals.

Martyn begins the song with a streaking stratospheric drone. What makes it even more powerful is the accompanying video which allows us to witness the sonic wizardry. Martyn slurs our the delicately airy melody which hangs motionless like white linens during a still evening. Martyn sets the tempo with an unseen astral metronome. Each note is an eternity, each sonic swell a mysterious wave swirling toward shore. Eyes closed Martyn sings each line carefully, each drawn out vocal a universe unto itself. Midway through the song a soaring distortion creates a more aggressive bed for Martyn to scat, ‘One World’ over the top of. Martyn clenches his eyes before slashing a dark ray of feedback from his guitar, he tugs at the neck of his SG stretching the note. This leads to a towering series of licks that grow before dissipating into molecule. The song swings like a transparent pendulum surrounded by sonic doves and life giving water. I can assure you that this performance is unique unto itself, like a UFO or unknown sea creature, a beautiful mystery.

The song draws puzzled but honest applause from the crowd who must realize they have witnessed something special. A slightly jittery Martyn introduces the next song followed by a big sleeve swipe across his nose. Martyn’s acoustic comes back out for ‘One Day without You’ a track from Martyn’s 1976 LP Sunday’s Child. What a stunning rendition of this underrated track from Martyn’s catalog. Aggressive thumbed percussion keeps Martyn’s unique love song pumping like a love sick heart. Martyn’s lyrics elicit the sadness Martyn feels when his partner is not around and how everything is slightly less resplendent when she is gone. His vocals are long and smooth and stretch over the percussive strings as verbal taffy, virginal and sticky sweet.
Martyn lets out an unintelligible yelp following the priceless reading of ‘One Day Without You’, before introducing ‘Dealer’, which John dedicates to ‘most of his friends’. Martyn quickly pounds the remainder of his beer, tunes up his acoustic and illustrates the wonders of his Echoplex working in conjunction with his acoustic. Creating his own rhythm track by thumping out a riff on his hollow body, Martyn joins by laying another melodic coat of paint over the base. Martyn loses himself in the song, rocking to the created rhythm by adding glittering licks that reverberate in time with the original tape delay. The meter of his verses in conjunction with the rolling groove illustrate the eagerness of the songs protagonist. The song brings the listener to hypnosis with only Martyn’s gritty vocals breaking the spell.

Following a quick tune up and thank you to the crowd, Martyn introduces the next song as, ‘roses in the teeth time’, and says that ‘this is the closest we will get to true romance all night’.  Another song from One World follows with ‘Certain Surprise’ which quietly sneaks up on the listener through jazzy changes and fragile singing by Martyn. Beautifully delicate in its construction, the street corner busker melody is earnest and gentle and echoes in the distance as lovers touch hands across a candlelit table.

Martyn stays on acoustic but again institutes the Echoplex for “Big Muff” which he humorously introduces as another ‘love song’. Also from the One World album, ‘Big Muff’ was a collaboration with famed dub producer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry when Martyn visited Jamaica with Chris Blackwell from Island Records. The song is a wonderful blend of humor, musical magic and Jamaican weed. In this rendition Martyn sets the tempo with plucks on his bass strings similarly to ‘Dealer’. He then dresses the song with a funky central lick and croons with a free flowing rock and roll slur. 

The performance concludes with a rare ‘In Search of Anna’ to which Martyn again reaches for his Gibson SG. ‘Anna’ had its musical roots in the One World soundscape ‘Small Hours’ which used natural sounds and manipulated guitar to create a starry beg of sound. ‘In Search of Anna’ was released as a single in 1978 only in Australia for the soundtrack to the film, In Search of Anna. The song was co-written with Michael Norton who set lyrics to Martyn’s music. In this footage Martyn develops the song proper by pumping on his wah-wah and playing well timed harmonics on his guitar. Martyn sums up the feeling of this song by placing his hand over his eyes simulating that he is watching something in the distance. A storm of distortion disassembles the placid soundscape which reveal Martyn singing the verses.
The credits begin to roll as Martyn sings a combination of the lyrics over the silvery topography of song. Martyn is at the directive of the muse as he free forms the lyrics and improvises the song constantly looking for Anna along the horizon. Unfortunately, like the opening song, the closing song is truncated before reaching its conclusion. What a way to conclude the performance with an mostly unheard song, disseminated like a quilt of night sky draped over a full house of college students.
Typical for John Martyn, this 1978 performance includes wonderful songwriting, experimental improvisation and soulful performing. There is a hearty knotted thread of melody for the audience to hang onto and a large dose of inprov to keep Martyn interested. In the ‘rock room’s’ humble opinion this performance can be considered a high water mark for John Martyn. While Martyn had much more music to be be heard, there is something special about this concert, prior to the health and addiction issues Martyn would still face.

For John Martyn fans in the know his performance on October 20, 1978 is not to be missed and captures the artist at work during one of his many peaks as a musician. For those just learning about John Martyn (unbelievably there are many) this performance is a glimpse into his substantial catalog and a taste of the multiple flavors of his music ranging from, folk, rock, jazz and experimental songs that express the multiple aspects of Martyn’s personality and in turn our own.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Put the Boot In: Bob Dylan and his Band – Monterey May 27, 1995 –‘Leaves of Yesteryear’

Pulled from the ‘rock room’ compact disc archive today comes a much celebrated and excellent Bob Dylan performance from his spring 1995 tour. A swing on the ‘Never Ending Tour’ much celebrated by fans, today the ‘rock room’ takes the soundboard line recording from the May 27, 1995 for a spin around the musical block. Hailing from Monterey, California this 13th performance of the tour features a well-balanced and crispy recording and a fiery Dylan. My recording hails from the silver CD bootleg Laguna Beach and is one of the most respected ‘unofficial’ recordings available from the era.

The concert was held outdoors and Dylan was the headlining act with other bands such as the ‘Black Crowes’ and George Clinton. The backing group for this portion of the ‘Never Ending Tour’ features Bucky Baxter on pedal steel and slide guitar, John Jackson (guitar), Tony Garnier (bass) and Winston Watson on drums. While Jackson and Baxter do much of the heavy lifting for the solo’s Dylan also plays quite a bit of his own unique brand of lead guitar during this era. The recording is popular with Dylan fanatics for both sound quality and performance. The band is a guitar heavy, rock and roll steamroller.

The crowd on this particular evening was treated to a well-played show that featured a number of first times for the tour as well as many top notch renditions. Following the MC’s introduction, beginning the evening is a bombastic vamp on ‘Crash on the Levee (Down in the Flood)’ that lets the assembled crowd know that the band has already primed the pump. Dylan begins the show with a sinister pout, the vocals power increased by the slippery descending lick central to this arrangement. The song gains momentum as the flood gates open and by the final verse Dylan is feeling it with syncopated melodic shouts. A couple of solid Jackson solos ignite the fuse and by the songs conclusion the band is a full torrent.

Bob shouts a quick ‘Thank You’ and with just a brief pause, the weighty slow roll of ‘It Takes A lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” leaves the station. Dressed in fuzzy slide and succinct rhythm guitar, this is a patient and stellar rendition.  Dramatic Bucky Baxter steel enforces Dylan’s elastic and soulful dictation. Dylan is in fantastic voice and each movement of the song has a purpose and the well-known changes become more substantial with the throttled down tempo.

With hardly a pause an aggressive ‘All Along the Watchtower’ scans the evening’s landscape. As is typical Dylan stays with Hendrix’s arrangement but with a dash of funkiness added by Watson’s gunshot snare drum. The joker, thief and price weave their three guitars into a frenzy during the mid-song jam with Dylan underneath soloing without restraint. The group brings the dynamics way down before a series of scrubs by Jackson separated by a verse bring the song to a substantial peak. By this time the group was very familiar with each other’s moves, this freedom allowed Dylan the ability to just jam without bogging down the song. The ‘rock room’ recommends reading Dylan’s Chronicles I for a deft description of Dylan’s approach to the guitar during this era and how he received an awakening during his 1987 rehearsals with the Grateful Dead. ‘Watchtower’ gets a huge round of applause.

After a rolling and raucous concert opening Dylan brings things to a simmer with a rendition of the ‘Never Ending Tour’ concert standard, ‘Simple Twist of Fate’. Here the classic is played as a slow march, with Dylan’s investment in the vocals a highlight. Dylan pulls lyrical taffy, stretching and tugging the melody line as the steel moans from a distant country hill top. The sparkling ding of a bell punctuates each verse prior to a swaying solo spot for all three string wielders where the central refrain is dispersed in a variety of ways.

Another popular choice for Dylan during this era comes next with ‘Silvio’. A song co-written with the Grateful Dead’s lyricist Robert Hunter. ‘Silvio’ screams with bombastic riffs and an extended jam. Dylan rings out each word as he searches to find out what only dead men know. Dylan always has a huge ‘rocker’ in the early portions of this shows and this version of ‘Silvio’ fits the bill. An additional three guitar maelstrom comprises the central segment of the song. Dylan’s guitar work here is quite good in the ‘rock’ sense. Following ‘Silvio’ Dylan introduces Jackson’s own impressive guitar work with a slight joking aside.
Two major highlights follows as Dylan and the group have properly stretched their legs and again dig into Dylan’s mid 60’s catalog. ‘Tombstone Blues’ is played as a grinding and vamped on 12 bar blues, where the intro reminds of ‘Lonesome Day Blues’ from Dylan’s yet to be released 2001 LP Love and Theft. As opposed to the track’s usual high speed rap, Dylan’s approach includes crooning with a blues man’s swagger. Here Dylan focuses less on rhythmic invention and more on swing and raw authenticity. Distorted guitars and twangy licks frame Dylan’s sneaky lines. Wooly steel lines by Baxter shred the first break and give Bob a gentle nudge into the next verse where he plants his heels into the fresh dirt. Another stunning guitar break follows, this time by Jackson where Bob lets him shovel another load of dirt. The guitarists get another chance to shine as a third round of pyrotechnics occur after the concluding verse. Rough ready and rolling, the perfect set up to the acoustic set.
The second of the two highlights mentioned above comes next with the anticipated acoustic set. With the stellar display already put on for the Monterey crowd via the incendiary electric set, Dylan fittingly follows it with ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’.  While not as surreal as the 1966 tour versions or as fiery as the 1975 renditions, this reading is a delicate country lullaby. With a laser focus on the words and melody, Dylan pulls from his most famous song a Hank Williams ballad. Acoustic, with harmonica and slide guitar the psychedelic poetry is sung over pastoral landscape of smoke rings and tambourine tapping jesters.
Dylan sings tenderly, gentle and inquisitively, sharing a lyrical secret. Patient, like a back porch ballad, acoustic guitar, slide guitar, bass and harp collaborate sewing a delicate framework to cradle Dylan’s words. Following the final verse, Baxter’s slide and Dylan’s harp enter into an outro duet. Dylan blows his harmonica soft as baby’s breath, gently exploring repetitive notes like he has never witnessed them previously. Completely invested, Dylan uses his setup before taking a breathy swell for the final trip around the melody before coming full circle to complete one of the finest ‘Mr Tambourine Man’s’ of the 1990’s.

‘Masters of War’ continues the acoustic set, the second of a triad of some of Dylan’s most emotive cuts. With a rhythm like the doomsday clock, Dylan’s acoustic pushes the hands of the song forward, the distant sound of a foot soldier’s cadence reflected in the sound. Dylan takes three differing harp breaks that lay dividing lines in the dirt. The second solo races forward with Baxter’s succinct mandolin strikes setting the tempo, before Dylan lays down a third more aggressive solo after the dark concluding verse.

The final song of the acoustic set is a wonderful waltz time reading of ‘To Ramona’. Again, mandolin, Dylan’s acoustic and bass are the spotlighted instruments. Dylan, as has been the standard for the show sings endearingly to Ramona, each line lovingly crafted but with a slight twist at the end that makes you wonder. A melody that never grows tired, and a singer who is inside of the song. Stunning.

Dylan then introduces the band following the acoustic set in preparation for the concert’s home stretch.  Another small Dylan joke can be heard during these intros. Ushering in the rest of the electric set is an unassuming track from Dylan’s 1986 LP Empire Burlesque. ‘Seeing the Real You at Last’ while not a concert standard seems to always make an appearance at some point during a Dylan tour. The cut starts out thumping out a slippery riff and reveals itself as Dylan enters into the verses. This is a guitar leaden version with Chuck Berry licks flying around the stage and Dylan gruffly singing the slightly accusatory and differing from the studio record lyrics.

In the ‘rock room’s’ humble opinion the previous jam was just a minor setup for the regal version of ‘Every Grain of Sand’ that follows. ‘Every Grain of Sand’ is always a welcome addition to any Dylan set and a special occurrence when it does. The perfect blend of faith and secular love, the song is easily one of Dylan’s finest compositions. The band begins buy contemplating the songs changes instrumentally, setting the table for Dylan’s entrance. Jackson quotes the descending central lick from the studio album Shot of Love in between the verses, while Baxter’s pedal steel lends a mystical air to the proceedings. While there is no harp solo, Dylan does pluck the guitar around the edges of song's melody throughout. The verses are complete and by the end the song, the entire band has reached a central place of thoughtless ecstasy.

A standard crowd pleasing, but nonetheless high octane, ‘Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again’, comes next and closes the concert proper. A big shifty version, the tune skates across freeway bridges and heads down the interstate. A series of heavy riffing and Dylan’s tangled verses bring the assembled crowd to their feet after a series of climaxes. While well played, I am still feeling the emotional repercussions of the previous cuts, but it is nice to just rock!
What could Dylan possibly pull out as an encore after the set crowning ‘Every Grain of Sand’ and closing ‘Memphis Blues’? A wonderfully long, stirring version of ‘Knockin on Heavens Door’ that’s what. Admittedly, the ‘rock room’ isn’t a fan of ALL the versions of this Dylan classic, as it sometimes can become a dirge. This version is a poignant conclusion to a special performance and pairs perfectly and thematically with the sets conclusion. What begins as a small tip tapping becomes a full blown cop knock by the end as the band lays into the show’s conclusion. The first verse is drumless with only Dylan’s voice and before long the song reaches skyward, increasing its momentum and bursting into a wonderful show ending conclusion. Dylan takes one guitar solo before letting Baxter and Jackson take the final solo spot to a big riveting end.

It is a substantially tall order to sift through Bob Dylan’s ‘Never Ending Tour’ and reveal its numerous hidden jewels. There is an overwhelming collection of songs, line ups, venues, shows and extenuating factors that make up Dylan’s massive touring career. In the case of May 27, 1995, this is one show whose head bobs above the waterline and lets us witness its beautiful creation. Dylan would still have a number of musical peaks in the upcoming years, and is still reaching nightly summits as of this writing. The ‘rock room’ always finds it nice to dig into Dylan’s back pages not only to trace his career and development but to find the magic.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Rock Room on the Road: Graham Nash – Live at Ithaca State Theater March 7, 2020 ‘I Can See My Life Before Me’

On Saturday March 7, 2020 Graham Nash stopped into the historic State Theater in Ithaca, NY for his Intimate Evening of Songs and Stories 2020 tour. Joined by longtime musical companion Shane Fontayne on guitar and vocals and former ‘CSN’ organist/vocalist Todd Caldwell, Nash put together an airy and diverse trio to play a cross-section of his music hailing from the ‘Hollies’, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, ‘CSNY’ and his solo career. Just a ‘rock room’ observation, I feel Nash emanated a vibe of seriousness throughout the evening, and maybe even a hint of sadness. I will not pretend to act that this is fact, but in my mind his stature only increased the poignancy of the performance.

The 1,600 seat State Theater was about ¾ capacity when the performance started promptly at 8:00 PM. I sat third row stage left and had a wonderful cross stage view of the proceedings. Regardless of current world events, the show must go on and Nash gave myself and the assembled crowd a couple hours to not think about the chaos surrounding us. Nash was in amazing voice on this evening. I have seen Nash over 30 times in multiple configurations since the early 1990’s and honestly I can say that he has never sounded better. My expectations were greatly surpassed but I was not surprised. The concert was comprised of two sets, infusing a multifarious collection of favorites, deep cuts and surprises.

Nash begin the evening on his beautiful Martin acoustic with his composition ‘Wasted on the Way’, a ‘Crosby Stills and Nash single’ from 1982 and a top ten hit for the band. Lyrically fitting for the start of the evening as the song disseminates the realization that Nash and his musical friends have/had wasted so much time on petty jealousies and meaningless fodder as opposed to concentrating on the things that really matter.

Following comes the first ‘deep’ cut of the evening, ‘King Midas in Reverse’, a 1967 single by the ‘Hollies’ which didn’t do much, yet for Nash’s fans is a well-loved cut. I was especially excited as Nash had been playing ‘Bus Stop’ in the slot currently but changed it up on this evening. Lucky us! Nash soared on the choruses with his duo of musicians providing buttery harmonies. The band created a pale paisley of sound with Caldwell laying lush brush strokes of color under the drumless sway. Fontayne was and is a stellar musician throughout the night, adding perfectly placed dabs of melody and sonic displacement under Nash’s rhythmic strums.
Before I could take a breath, ‘I Used to Be a King’ from Nash’s 1971 LP Songs For Beginners came next. Here Fontayne resurrected Jerry Garcia’s silvery pedal steel from the studio recording with illuminating riffing the crystallized in the still State Theater air. Nash with eyes closed reached for the top rungs of the chorus and hit them with light fingertips. The crowd, even those unfamiliar with the song sat in amazed silence.
Graham had no qualms about stating his mind throughout the evening, even dropping a few ‘F bombs’ to get his point across. Prior to another Songs from Beginners track ‘Chicago’ Graham told the story of how he was inspired to write the song in addition to mentioning that no one should be ‘fucking’ surprised that he will be discussing the current political climate throughout the performance. Nash said that if you have ever been to a CSNY show you should know what to expect. Nash then sat at the center stage piano and pounded the black and white keys into the stomping intro to ‘Chicago (We Can Change the World)’. Graham dug into this cut with a fierce determination, even adding our current President’s name to some of the lyrics, illustrating the song’s 50 year relevance. Members of the audience rose to their feet at the songs conclusion realizing the songs importance even in current times.

After the thrilling opening to set one, Nash thumbed through his back catalog to play a deeper cut from his impressive discography. Nash preceded ‘Carried Away’, from the 1977 CSN LP with a tale regarding his lust for an island woman who was already on her way to somewhere else with her ‘old man’. Still at piano, Nash played an introspective version of the cut that pimpled my skin and watered my eyes. The melody initiated images, while Nash’s voice brought out emotions in me that didn’t exist prior to the song. A performer at his finest.

‘Sleep Song’, ‘4 + 20’, ‘Military Madness’ come next in the set. ‘4+20’ was a surprise seeing Graham play a song that one of his music water brothers composed. Similarly to the evening thus far Nash stamped the song with his own floating tenor and made the cut a highlight of his own. ‘Military Madness’ received the torch from ‘Chicago’ and was played with a gruff ambition while again name checking a certain person in power. The crowd loved it and the song was spotlighted by Fontayne’s sonic expressions.

In my mind I hoped that the penultimate performance of the set, the Crosby/ Nash song ‘Wind on the Water’ from their LP of the same name was added as an olive branch to David Crosby. I know this was not the case, but nonetheless I let the song for the world's whales wash over me, an ocean tide of prismatic melody, buoyed by Nash’s piano and decorated with ocean calls and salty foam by the apt duo of Fontayne and Caldwell. I must not neglect to mention Fontayne and Caldwell’s wonderful additions vocally to songs that are not easy to sing harmonies on. I not once caught myself hoping for other voices, each cut was rendered with vocal care and ability.
Closing set one, was not a deep cut, but was a surprise. The trio finished with the Beatles ‘A Day in the Life’. For sure not the song I was expecting this trio to cover, but similarly to the rest of the evening they did a masterful job. Nash’s voice a hand in glove fit for the song, the groups contrary sparse arrangement fitting, and the song's peaks reached with a swirling dervish of sound between guitar and organ. A standing ovation initiated and a 20 minute break before set two.

Nash and his friends returned to the darkened stage after a brief break opening the final set with perhaps his most well-known song, ‘Marrakesh Express’. This opening ‘CSN’ song got some ladies dancing in the isles and got attendees going immediately. Nash stayed on guitar and followed the 1-2 punch with perhaps his most famous solo cut, ‘Immigration Man’. This song also chilling for its contextual relevance even 50 years after its genesis. The trio definitely raised the temperature in the venue and I could feel that set two was going to be filled with the ‘heavy hitters’.

Graham returned to the piano and strapped on his harmonica for a barren and truthful, ‘Simple Man’. He introduced the song stating that he wrote the song for Joni and premiered the tune at the Fillmore East in 1970 with Joni Mitchell sitting in the audience. A picture perfect rendition and a version that I feel lucky to have witnessed. As an aside, I met Graham in 1997 and requested ‘Simple Man’ prior to a Syracuse, NY show which he kindly played for me that evening. Memories.

Similarly to the first set, Nash injected a duo of deep cuts as he returned to his acoustic at center stage.  The first, ‘Right between the Eyes’ made its only appearance on the ‘CSNY’ live LP Four Way Street. Nash was quoted as saying to Rolling Stone, “I was seduced by a beautiful woman down in Long Island. She was married. The song is a confession to a friend”. At the State Theatre, Nash added that the song was written for John Sebastian, so some contextual dots were connected. Using the same musical configuration, the band also dug out ‘Taken At All’ from the 1976 Crosby/Nash album. Another stand out performance Nash swayed, and grimaced as he finger picked his way through the changes. Fontayne brought a smile to Nash’s face with many of his deft string swells. Three part harmonies were as tight as family and Nash seemed pleased with what transpired on stage.

The only disappointment that I felt during the whole show came after the trio played ‘Golden Days’ from Nash’s most recent album This Path Tonight. Nash’s current writing has been so strong I would have liked to see this LP explored more thoroughly, but it’s a minor gripe. Regardless, this was a stunning performance, with Nash standing without instrument at the mic, and additional towering harmonies supported by the delicate music box melody.

The harmonies remained a focus as the three musicians gathered around one microphone for the final verses of Nash’s ‘Wounded Bird’, again from his 1971 LP Songs for Beginners. Nash strummed his Martin, his head tilted back, singing each verse better than the previous. As the song concluded Nash mouthed ‘Thank you’ and smiled aware of the amazing version just played.

Following this absolutely dizzying array of songs and stories covering Nash’s fifty plus years of performing, Nash and friends prepared to knock the rest of the set out of the theater. Beginning with another Stephen Stills cover, Nash began to strum the undulating riff of ‘Love the One You With’. Kicking off the home stretch with a huge singalong love fest, Nash received assistance from Caldwell’s slippery B3 and got the theater to shake their buns and scream out the choruses.

Then in rapid fire succession, out come the ‘big guns’, “Just a Song before I Go’, ‘Cathedral’ and the expected and hoped for ‘Our House’. Peaking musically and aesthetically, the crowd grooves, Nash and company bang out the hits and there are smiles abound. Even ‘Our House’ took on a deep poignancy when combined with all of the emotions Nash stirred up over the course of the evening. The crown responded expectantly and excitedly as Nash took his bow for a close to set two.

Returning to the stage for an encore, Nash dug into his childhood for a surprising reading of Buddy Holly’s ‘Everyday’. Again, joined by Fontayne and Caldwell at the microphone in three part, a tender and harmonious cover of ‘Everyday’ seemed to sum up the entire evening. Love, friendship, rock and roll, politics, loss, hope…….it all seemed to coalesce into a song that obviously had a huge bearing on what Graham Nash decided to do with his life. Then, just when you think the show was over, the ringing introductory D chord of ‘Teach Your Children’ concluded the evening with words we should and could all take to heart. The crowd smiled with Nash, while singing a song he has performed thousands of times prior, while still taking on a powerful relevance for all involved.

The best music is ageless and one thing of many that I took away from Graham Nash’s performance at State Theater Ithaca, is that his compositions are timeless. It may seem obvious, but when a listener is able to relate on such a profound level to an artist who has lived such a different life it can elevate both performer and attendee. Nash has always been quietly making amazing music just out of the shadow of his three former band mates. His songs have provided foundational melodies that everyone remembers even if they don’t know how. His gifts were and continue to be an essential element in every artistic endeavor he has undertaken Thank you for the songs Graham Nash.