Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Steve Winwood at the Majestic

I saw Steve Winwood at the Majestic Theater in San Antonio last night. The Majestic is one the best music venues anywhere. Built in the 1920's, completely renovated and reopened in 1989, it is beautiful inside and has excellent sound. A great place for a show.

Winwood opened with the classic Spencer Davis hit I'm a Man and from the first notes he had that Hammond B-3 singing. His voice is still pitch perfect and as recognizable as it was in 1967 when I'm a Man was all over the radio.

From there, he covered Can't Find My Way Home, which is one of my favorites from the tiny Blind Faith catalogue. After the first few notes, I turned to my friend and said: "Hearing this, I can die a happy man."

Another highlight was a spirited Low Spark of High Heel Boys which segued into Empty Pages, a standout from 1970's John Barleycorn Must Die. Taking up a mandolin, Winwood came to the front and led an inspired Back in the High Life Again. An extended version of Light Up or Leave Me Alone gave the band a chance to stretch out and show their licks. Every player in the band was amazing.

The first encore was a hard rocking Dear Mr. Fantasy with Winwood playing an excellent lead guitar. The show finished with the other signature Spencer Davis hit Gimme Some Lovin', which had the 60 year olds dancing in the aisles.

I left the Majestic in awe of the musical genius of Steve Winwood and realizing that the last time I saw him was a Traffic show at the Boston Tea Party in November of 1970. That's just over 42 years ago. Fuck, I am older than dirt.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Covered By Bob: Big River

From the Basement Tapes, here are three Johnny Cash songs that Bob and the Band covered at Big Pink in the summer of 1967.

Big River

Written by Cash and recorded at Sun Studios in 1958, Big River went to #4 on the country charts. It has been covered by the Grateful Dead, Hank Williams and many others.


 This is an obscure Cash song that was also recorded at Sun Studios in 1957.

Folsom Prison Blues

One of the most recognizable Cash song, it was originally recorded in 1955 at Sun Studios.  Released again in 1968 as part of the At Folsom Prison album, it went to #1 on the country charts.

There is a lot of history between Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. They reportedly met several times during the 1960's, including at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964. There Dylan played Cash It Ain't Me, Babe and Mama, You Been on my Mind which Cash covered on his 1965 release Orange Blossom Special.

In Dylan's movie of Tour 66, Eat the Document, Cash turned up backstage before a show at the Capital Theater in Cardiff, Wales. As I remember it, Cash looked a little jumpy and resisted Bob's suggestion of a impromptu duet in the dressing room.

During the Nashville Skyline sessions in February of 1969, Cash joined Dylan in the studio. They sang a series of duets on country standards. When the album was released the Cash/Dylan version of Girl From the North Country was the first track on the album.

Later that year, Dylan was a guest on the first episode of the Johnny Cash TV Show. He sang I Threw It All Away, Living the Blues and Girl from the North Country with Cash. I remember watching the show very clearly. Bob looked great. Here is a clip from that night: