Tag Archives: Young Hines

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A Birthday Gift for Elliott Smith

August 12th, 2013

Elliott Smith Tribute – The Bowery Ballroom – August 10, 2013


Last Tuesday would have been Elliott Smith’s 44th birthday, and it still feels strange to live in a world without him. Almost 10 years after his death, there was a palpable void on Saturday night at The Bowery Ballroom. Perhaps it was because so much else of Elliott was present: his family, friends, fans and, most important, his music to bring everyone together to honor a cause close to his heart. The night, emceed by Rhett Miller of Old 97’s, marked the end of a four-concert stretch of shows across the U.S. in honor of Smith’s birthday, organized by Smith’s sister Ashley Welch. All proceeds went to New Alternatives, a New York City–based organization to help homeless LGBT youth. Welch shared her personal story of how her brother was the first person she told she was gay. Welch knew him for his big heart, and she mentioned how when he was living in New York City, Smith would stuff bills into the shoes of homeless people he saw sleeping on the street, never anything less than a $20.

Saturday’s show featured many guest performers and friends—some who knew Smith well and others who knew him only through his music—sharing their stories. The night’s first set came from Smith’s former manager JJ Gonson’s band Meat Industry. Smith’s close friend Mary Lou Lord brought out with her the big star of the night, her 14-year-old daughter Annabelle, herself a big Smith fan, who sang and played through “St. Ides Heaven” and “I Figured You Out.” Young Hines traveled all the way from Nashville for the night, performing Smith’s most well-known song, “Needle in the Hay.” And Katarina Guerra sang her way through beautiful renditions of “Twilight” and “Between the Bars,” managing to bring out that haunting gorgeousness of Smith’s singing style.

The legendary Bob Dorough covered “Waltz #1” in addition to one of Smith’s favorites, a song he penned for Schoolhouse Rock!, “Figure 8.” Sirius XM DJ Jenny Eliscu shared her story about Smith’s inane ability to cheer up other people and how he stood by her side after her date stood her up at The Bowery Ballroom for a Neutral Milk Hotel show in 1998. Christina Courtin played two of the night’s biggest sing-alongs, “Angeles” and “Rose Parade.” Unannounced guests included Joseph Arthur, who played “Alameda” and was later joined by Pat Sansone of Wilco, who played “Waltz #2” and “Say Yes.” The night ended with everyone returning to the stage together to perform “Happiness” joined by every voice in the audience. There was only one missing. —Dan Rickerhsauser

Photos courtesy of Peter Senzamici | petersenzamici.com

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The Consistency of Brendan Benson

May 7th, 2012

Brendan Benson – The Bowery Ballroom – May 5, 2012


In retrospect, it makes sense why Jack White chose Brendan Benson as his collaborator for the Raconteurs. Both musicians dabble in familiar rock sounds yet tweak them in a way that makes them sound unique and inventive. In the case of Jack White, it’s the blues guitar, one of the foundations of rock and roll, which he’s managed to turn on its head. In Benson’s case, it’s power-pop melodies, the accessible yet earnest rock sound that may well never wane in popularity. How Benson’s been able to bend the possibilities of a tried-and-true sound into a career spanning three decades is what makes him not just a musician, but also an artist.

Benson’s show at The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday night included a healthy sampling of songs from his five solo albums. The singer-songwriter played about as many tunes from his latest release, What Kind of World, as he did from his first, 1996’s One Mississippi. The difference in style between older material and newer stuff was minor, but this consistency was a good thing. How songs like the opener, “Maginary Girl,” off Benson’s debut album, sound like they could have been released yesterday speaks to how perfected his songcraft was from the start. The new “Bad for Me” shifted momentum. It began as a piano ballad before lifting off into the power-pop stratosphere, returning back to earth for a brief moment of just Benson’s acoustic guitar and stretched vocals before blasting off again.

Members of opening acts Howling Brothers and Young Hines joined Benson to provide a fiddle, harmonica and megaphone accompaniment for “Pretty Baby.” The Nashville singer-songwriter Hines came back to do “Keep Me,” a new song cowritten with Benson, who seemed genuinely excited to be back in New York City. (The two also collaborated on the album Give Me My Change, released last month.) Benson spent most of the time before his set in the audience, chatting and taking pictures with fans. It’s refreshing to see a veteran still as enthusiastic to meet the crowd as he is to perform. If he’s not tired of it by now, there’s a good chance he never will be. And that’s a good thing. —Dan Rickershauser