Rex Fowler of the 43-year-strong duo, Aztec Two Step, previews their performance at Infinity Hall on Friday, May 23rd with our blogger, Emily Edelman. Rex explains their set list and “Classic Duos” portion they will be performing at Infinity Hall and how excited they are to be returning to our venue! Tickets are still available to their show, click here for more information.
He is packing his bags and making the trip from Ireland to start his US Tour! Luka Bloom visits Infinity Hall on Saturday, May 17th and Emily Edelman recently had a conversation with Luka about his process of writing and recording his songs, his new book and more! For more information on the show, click here.
So, you have your tickets for the Infinity Springsteen tribute band, Bruce in the USA, on Friday, May 9th, and you want a little something to get your motor running. Here’s a look at two Bruce biographies that were both published in 2012. They are quite different in style and tone so take your choice.
+++++ Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock ‘n’ Roll — By Marc Dolan — W. W. Norton & Company — @490 pages with extensive sources and notes — and five scattered poor photographs
+++++ Bruce — by Peter Ames Carlin — Simon & Schuster — @460 without notes — 38 photographs
Do you want the classroom or the playground? Both have their advantages and these two biographies are firmly rooted in one or the other. Peter Carlin is the more experienced author with two previous music books to his credit ( Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys). He is the better story teller. He catches the spirit of the subject and the break-through moments in Bruce’s career when fans, promoters, club owners, and recording executives all recognize that this guy will be a star. Just as Bruce’s music is uplifting, so is the pace and style of the writing. On the other hand, Marc Dolan is the professor. The title of his book suggests that there is more than just the telling of the Springsteen story. He chooses some dense verbiage to provide the details of his themes of Rock ‘n’ Roll as a conceptual, generational, and religious composition. It is the antithesis of Springsteen to treat the subject as a Doctoral thesis. As Dolan poses the question, “Are we dancing for ourselves, or do we all dance together?” If you are curious to decipher and analyze this question then this is your book. His is definitely the cerebral approach to our beloved Rock music. Lost in the verbiage is the fun of the music and the charisma of the star.
Books about popular music always have the same dilemma. Just because the subject is all about fun doesn’t mean that studious examination is not justified. Rock is a billion dollar industry with decades of history and deep roots in our culture. It isn’t fair to the subject to dismiss it as just so much noise, sweat, and long hair. We can agree that “Born to Run” is not a Vivaldi cello concerto but it doesn’t mean that it deserves more or less critical analysis. It isn’t fair to an erudite author such as Dolan to say that the subject doesn’t deserve or warrant a scholarly approach. Both Dolan’s and Carlin’s approach are appropriate and acceptable so the issue is simply what the reader is looking for.
No matter which book you choose the Bruce Springsteen story is a fascinating tale. Dolan’s book is deeply researched and detailed. It is a serious investigation and well worth reading. If your dedication to the subject doesn’t demand such an in depth effort than Carlin’s approach is just fine. If you can’t get enough Bruce then read them both.
David C. Parks 5/2/2014
Tickets for “Bruce in the USA” still available:
Our blogger Emily recently chatted with another Emily, Emily Elbert, to talk about her extensive tour schedule, what is next on her plate as well as her upcoming performance at Infinity Hall with A.J Croce on Sunday, May 18th! For more information on the show, click here.
By Chuck Obuchowski
Willie Nile just might be the quintessential American singer/songwriter. His music can jangle gleefully with Buddy Holly harmonies one moment, and rage like the Ramones the next. Whether strumming guitar strings or caressing piano keys, Nile sings ardently, with or without the aid of a backing band. His street-smart lyrics are direct, poignant and uncompromising, not unlike those of one of his admirers, Bruce Springsteen. Willie’s even got a Greenwich Village pedigree, having moved there in 1971 to pursue his musical ambitions in folk clubs and coffee houses.
Why then is it that this spirited rock & roll troubadour spends so much time touring overseas? What is it that European listeners find compelling about Nile’s songs that apparently alludes audiences in his homeland? Why hasn’t this author of catchy melodies and witty rhymes ever had a hit single?
Frankly, there are no easy answers to those questions. Willie Nile’s eponymous release for Arista Records in 1980 brimmed with memorable tunes and astute observations about urban life. His accessible roots rock would have sounded great alongside the latest records by Jackson Browne, Tom Petty, Neil Young and Dire Straits which were riding high on the commercial rock airwaves and pop charts at the time.
Nile had already earned a reputation as an exciting live performer by then. Moreover, his songs successfully bonded elements of different styles and eras. He’d been checking out New York punk haunts too, and had more than a passing knowledge of folk and rockabilly as well. All those flavors added spice to Nile’s unique sonic gumbo.
Chalk it up to poor timing, bad luck or fate; whatever the reasons, Willie Nile has never quite hit the big time. In fact, he’s even set aside his music career on occasion, but – like many artists – Nile can’t resist the impulse to create, driven by new insights, new stories, and the desire to connect with an audience.
The Buffalo-born vocalist appears to have given up the quest for fame and fortune a long time ago. Not that he ever sold his soul to music industry overlords, but, in recent years, Nile has taken more control of his career. He’s been asserting his beliefs more boldly than ever, and he refuses to fall prey to complacency or disappointment. Last year’s American Ride offers ample proof that the 65-year-old songsmith hasn’t lost his idealism, his musical muscle or his wry sense of humor.
From the moment he shouts “one-two, one-two-three” on the opening track, “This Is Our Time,” Nile grabs the listener’s attention. He wants us to believe – as he does – that “the time has come for us to stand up for people everywhere.” If we all embrace love and empathy right now, we can change the world for the better. That’s the gist of the song, but Willie belts it out with the conviction and sincerity of a street-corner preacher.
Lest we develop unrealistic expectations of an inevitable Utopian future, Nile slaps us with the reality of how much needs to change by contributing the compositions “Holy War” and “Life on Bleeker Street.” He also tosses in the sardonic sneer of “God Laughs,” reminding us not to count on the Almighty to intervene very often on our behalves. After all, God’s got a busy “life.”
Nile may have taken a few falls over the years, but the singer who once implored his lover to ride to his window so “we can go howling ‘neath the vagabond moon” still has stars in his eyes. Only now he’s coaxing her to join him – and his guitar – “on an American ride.” He promises a search for “Elvis Presley and the Reverend Green,” plus encounters with “the good and the bad and the in-between.” Thirty minutes later, Willie Nile ends the album with a folksy sing-along called “There’s No Place Like Home.” Sounds like he hasn’t given up on his compatriots just yet.
You’re invited to tag along on Nile’s American ride for a couple hours this Sunday at 7:30 p.m. when he and his band visit Infinity Hall. Show him that not all U.S. citizens take his rock & roll for granted, and that some of us are actually inspired by his striking odes to everyday people.