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Monday, October 28, 2013

HIGHLIGHTS: 2013 Bridge School Benefit Concerts

"What Are Their Names"
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

The Bridge School Benefit - 10.26.13
(Click photo to enlarge)

Many, many highlights from this weekend's annual 2013 Bridge School Benefit Concerts in what will go down as another wonderfully memorable weekend.

For most, this was another triumphant weekend of great music and fun people coming together for a worthy benefit concert. Others -- as we'll come to later -- saw and heard things differently, naturally.

In the Neil department you could not have been disappointed this weekend whatsoever. You had Jack Johnson and Neil Young on "Out On The Weekend", My Morning Jacket and Neil Young on "Harvest Moon", Arcade Fire and Neil Young on "I Dreamed A Neil Young Song", Heart and Neil Young on "War Of Man", and Velvet Underground/Lou Reed tribute “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” with Neil Young, Elvis Costello, Jenny Lewis, and My Morning Jacket. Plus the solo songs that opened each day and the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young headline reunion.

Neil Young
Photo by John Green/Bay Area News Group

Lots of the little magical delights that make the Bridge School Benefit Concerts so special. Like Arcade Fire introducing a new song inspired by a Neil Young dream. See @ 06:07:00 YouTube below for "I Dreamed A Neil Young Song":

“I had a dream … We’re playing the song at soundcheck and I remembered, I woke up and remembered everything. I was half asleep and I started playing it and wrote down the lyrics and listened back to my tape recorder and it was basically a Neil Young. So this song is called ‘I Dreamed A Neil Young Song’ and Neil’s gonna come sing it with us. So this song is by Neil Young in my head.”
(Other highlights to check out include Neil Young joining My Morning Jacket for “Harvest Moon” at 5:10:00 and CSNY’s reunion at 7:45:10.

And the concert reacted to the news of the passing of the hugely influential Lou Reed. In tribute to Reed, My Morning Jacket covered the Velvet Underground’s “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” with Neil Young, Elvis Costello, Jenny Lewis, and more.

As we indicated above, not all were sufficiently impressed.

In a review in San Jose Mercury News headlined "Bridge School Benefit disappoints at Shoreline" by Jim Harrington:
It was an eight-hour acoustic concert that felt much longer, with very few of the expected highlights translating to lasting memories. Indeed, it may have been the least memorable of the roughly two dozen Bridge concerts that I've attended.
One of the most troubling issues with the Bridge concerts is that there are just too many acts. That means short sets, usually around 20-30 minutes, and accompanying set changes that last nearly as long as the performances. It's a poor use of everybody's time, unless, of course, you dig watching stagehands setting up instruments.
Then came the hipster-approved portion of the night, as My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire and Queens of the Stone Age filled the next three slots on the bill. Regardless of the quality of the offering -- and Arcade Fire did deliver the set of the night -- it was still too much new music grouped together. In retrospect, organizers should've mixed it up a bit, and given Heart and Johnson later starts, so that the majority of the crowd didn't have to go so long without hearing a song that it recognized.
It is sad that a veteran music critic like Jim Harrington seems to miss the entire point of the exercise, i.e., it's a benefit concert to help disabled kids. An acoustic concert for the kids and their parents who are literally sitting on the stage. About celebrating the miracle school known as "The Bridge" and what Neil and Pegi Young have achieved. About all the school staff, volunteers, and supporters.

Bridge Kids, Parents and Neil Young

Critic Harrington approaches the review with a perspective of wanting to be impressed and entertained. Which is OK but misses the point and is like saying Woodstock really wasn't that great because of the crappy sound and weak lighting.

Besides all of the once in lifetime combinations cited at top, where else in mainstream music will you encounter the following scene mid-point of the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young set?

David Crosby introduces the song "What Are Their Names" by saying that "We're political." Next, Neil Young pulls up his hoodie and begins to stalk the stage (see top photo) -- all in clear reference to the whole Trayvon Martin saga.

Again, the weekend allows one to experience many, many hours of music, an incredible diversity of artists, and some one-off combinations that often work out splendid.

So don't be a doubter. Be a believer. Take a chance on love.

"War Of Man"
Heart and Neil Young

Photo by Mario Di Sandro

Tom Waits "Raised Right Men" Live Acoustic @ Bridge School Benefit, Shoreline 10-27-2013

Lastly, a shoutout for the webcast. Our stream seemed glitch free and there were very few audio/video problems during the webcast -- a pretty flawless experience as these things go. So if haven't already, go to Bridge School: Donate to the Bridge School.

Also, see Photo of the Moment: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Bridge School Benefit - 10.26.13 and more highlights from 2013 Bridge School Benefit Concert Webcast and re-broadcast/re-stream info.

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At 10/28/2013 10:25:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

After staying up til 4 to watch the whole show, and getting up at 4 today to carry on my duties, I tell ya, that was a memorable stream and I'm sure a most memorable weekend for all the performers and those in attendance. From Jenny Lewis and Nancy Wilson killing it with vocals afterer Neil opened, to a ton of energy and feel throughout, this was an "out on the weekend" event. Anybody in their right mind would recognize all that. Thanks Again Neil/Peg and all for a great showing...warts (what few there were) and all!

At 10/29/2013 02:31:00 AM, Anonymous Duluthfinest said...

It was my third bridge After 2010 and 2011 and it WAS memorable !!!!
Tom waits, my Morning jacket and qotsa were simple unforgettable in their Performances.
the Problem is neither the length of the Whole Show nor the breaks. Breaks are Good to chitchat with the neighbours, Walk around or Getting some News and Information about the Kids and the School.
In my opinion the Main Problem is the weather. I can't Understatement why they don't do it in September ?! Especially on sunday it was cold that many People left an Hour before csny entered the Stage.
About neil: the collaboration have been the Highlights for me personally. Wether with Heart or Johnson or Arcade Fire - they all,have been outstanding as ever and i Hope One Day he will Produce an Archive Series Edition " duets and collaborations at bridge benefit." One of his best Performances i've ever Seen was the all-star Tribute to lou with "oh sweet nuthing". Jim james and neil on his bluesy Heavy harmonica made me Really cry, honestly.
Csny were fantastic as well. Also it was the First Time for me to See them all together. A Dream came True !
I only wish neil wouldn't have Chosen "Singer without a Song" for both Nights. His Most Boaring Song ever ...

It's always a Hard Trip for me to go there 'caus i'm living in Germany but i will definitively Return next Year !

At 10/29/2013 08:55:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that was just what I needed.
Thank you Neil for your guitar/harmonica tribute to Lou Reed. Since Lou's passing I've been looking for some kind of memorial experience. And to see my ying paying tribute to my yang was just perfect.
'say a word for Jimmy Brown'

At 10/29/2013 09:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With reference to that fantastic Lou Reed tribute (RIP), does anyone else think that Neil could record with My Morning Jacket? He's a big fan and they compliment each other. On top of that, as demonstrated above, Carl Broemel is clearly a capable pedal steel player, and Neil hasn't been able to explore sound that since poor old Ben Keith passed away. In other words, could we see a MMJ/NY album in the works? Or maybe even Neil trying to entice the services of Broemel?

At 10/29/2013 11:27:00 AM, Anonymous Alfonz said...

As for the negative review ... "too much new music grouped together" ... what in the hell?

Arcade Fire have been around for 12 years; MMJ for 14; QOTSA for 15. All with ~5-6 great albums. The old fart writing the review probably thinks anyone under the age of 60 is "new music".

I don't doubt that the whole 8 hours could drag on, but I daresay those 3 bands would have been highlights, apart from Neil himself and Tom Waits.

Anyway ... Neil's bluesy harp on Sweet Nuthin' was sublime. I've seen MMJ play that song before in full electric mode at Red Rocks last year. Nice contrast in styles. Supreme band.

At 10/29/2013 02:04:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

are you kidding, that brought me to tears, beautiful

At 10/29/2013 02:50:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

Yea the reviewer missed by a country mile, love how these days the masses can review the reviewer and so there's a bit more accountability than there was pre-internet.

Bridge School is a whole world in itself, they should make a video series of all the years and sell it to NetFlix ... so many incredible acts over so many years and then Neil and Pegi woven into the fabric of every one ... and then the kids, which is the real point, and their joy ... and the fact that the whole thing exists to help these courageous kids and families.

CSNY ... Stills' new song and overall spunk was really nice to see and the Young/Stills chemistry was palpable ... after reading some of the negative reviews of CSNY I was pleasantly surprised by their performance. I think the nitpicking about whether they practiced enough misses the point, its special to see these guys together after so many years, how many bands (if you can call these guys that) from the 60s are 100% intact? the sheer nostalgia of that is special. But more on nostalgia in a minute. I personally love Singer w/out a Song ... not sure why all the negativity on it ... reunion or not? I'm betting against it ... clearly CSN wants it to happen and I'm guessing Neil is positively predisposed given these guys are his friends and they could benefit from such a tour. I keep thinking has Neil mellowed enough to stop innovating for a few months and go along with this? Then I think if they had a whole album of new material (instead of one song) or something else thematic (like LWW) then I think the set up would be perfect and it would happen ... but if not, I just cannot see Neil going out there and doing a nostalgia act especially some overhyped 40 year anniversary of '74 which itself was overhyped ... and if a Springfield reunion didn't work I struggle to see how this works ... this against the backdrop of the recent Horse reunion which was totally epic ... I keep worrying we'll see a full Neil break for the first half of '14, we've ostensibly seen a break for almost the whole second half of '13 ... so, anything is better than nothing and I for one think within the realm of nostalgia acts these guys are impressive and its hard not to root for guys like Crosby and Stills despite my being pessimistic ...


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