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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Preview of Neil Young Tribute @ Carnegie Hall

Some 20 artists will perform at the Neil Young tribute at Carnegie Hall, New York City, this Thursady, February 10th. The roster will includes Bettye LaVette, Aaron Neville, Jakob Dylan and Patti Smith (who will appear with her daughter, Jesse); relatively new groups DeVotchKa, Nada Surf and the Wood Brothers; and The Cowboy Junkies and Juliana Hatfield & Evan Dando.

From The Star-Ledger by Jay Lustig:
“The challenge of performing one of the songs and not having people go ‘I prefer Neil’s falsetto’ is something that everyone’s going to be concerned about,” says series producer Michael Dorf. “You really have to interpret (the song) in a way that is going to push through that mental obstacle that a listener is going to have.”

Dorf says that Jakob Dylan is planning to perform one of Young’s signature songs, “Southern Man,” on Thursday, and that the Roots will tackle the dark, haunting “Down by the River.”

“I already have little shivers, just mentioning that,” he says. That’s not surprising since he also says that the Roots’ explosive, whisper-to-a-scream performance of Dylan’s “Masters of War” in 2006 was one of the most memorable moments for him from the entire series.

“They clearly spent a lot of time working out the nuances of the song,” he says. “They both gave it meaning that I had never heard, hearing Dylan do it, and really worked the audience in a way that was special. To me, that represents a lot of what we’re trying to do here: take these great songs by master songwriters and have them sung in a new voice, in a different voice.

“Like all good art, to have a variation on a theme sometimes can give you more insight into what the original author was intending.”

"I got into Neil Young when I was 16 or 17," recalled Ben Ottewell of the band Gomez. "My dad was a fan. I remember him buying 'Harvest Moon.'" In his solo shows, Mr. Ottewell plays "Unknown Legend" from that 1992 album.

Keller Williams included many Young songs in his sets when he was starting out, no doubt attracted to the composer's use of simple folk chords and wistful major sevenths. "It was more than just his songwriting capabilities and the way he can paint a landscape with the words," Mr. Williams said. "In the '60s and '70s, he was a true freak. He'd fearlessly go into uncharted territories."

100% of the net proceeds from this event to benefit: Fixing Instruments for Kids in Schools, Church Street School for Music & Art, The Pinwheel Project, Music Unites, The American Symphony Orchestra and Young Audiences New York.

For more info, see The Music of Neil Young at Carnegie Hall.

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