Thursday, February 9, 2017

"I'd like to tell my story," Leonard Cohen Tribute at HiFi

The weather report said it was going to snow all day.  We got calls saying, no school. But not Wednesday night, so a cozy night of music in the city it was.  In the months since Leonard Cohen died, the day of Trump’s rise, we’ve been saying goodbye and listening The sensuous words linger, with the music, through the years, always in rotation at the Shepard's, along with Joni and company.

·         Last night, we went to the Leonard Cohen Tribute at HiFi in the East Village, an event organized by Jessie Kilguss:

We skipped going out for dinner, grabbing a slice on Avenue A and making our way to join Brennan, our old buddy.  Everyone made plans for new photography shows. The musicians poured through us.

Sitting in the back of the bar with Brennan and Caroline, one musician after another walked onto stage to sing.

I brought Caroline a dry martini. photo by Caroline Shepard

Brennan told us a story about Cohen talking with Dylan. 

“How long did it take you to write Halleluiah?” Dylan asked.

Cohen paused.  It took him 15 years. “Ten years,” he responded.

“How long did it take to write ‘Blowing in the Wind?’

“15 Minutes.”

Brennan is a great person to hear music with.

Patricia Santos played
I am your man with her cello.  

Patricia Santos played the cello
photo by Caroline Shepard

The generativity of old New York felt everywhere, the quiet sound, artists pouring in the through the woodwork. People making donations to the ACLU instead of paying cover.

I scribbled down song names and lyrics: “The stranger”, “No cure for love”, “The Tower Song,” where he sang, “I ache in the places u used to play.”

A few weeks into Trump’s America, Cohen’s “Theres a War” felt more prescient.

"There is a war" he sang. "Come on 
back to the war. Don't be a tourist."
There is a war between the ones who say there is a war 
And the ones who say there isn’t. 
There is a war between the rich and poor, A war between man and woman.  There is a war between the left and right, A war between black and white, A war between odd and even.”

The songs continued, “from the tragic to the ridiculous,” explained the performer for

“Don’t go home with your hard-on.”  At first I thought it was “heart” or maybe it was “hard.”

But the point was the same.

“I bought your groceries” he sang.

And we laughed. I’m the best at getting groceries.

Everyone knows it.

“Everybody knows,” felt more painfully accurate than ever.

“Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows”

The songs continued, the Miracle, Famous Blue Raincoat, Bird on the Wire, etc, but the scene was becoming more and more animated.  The bands were not immediately coming on. But everyone was still listening, lapping up all the words. A man sat on the stage checking his messages, seemingly oblivious to the music, occasionally looking up and acknowledging us.

For much of the set, no one played anything from The Songs of Leonard Cohen.  Its my favorite Cohen album. I still have Dads old copy.

And then a young women came on to play, “So Long Mariane” and everyone sang along.

The following performer sang, “I can’t forget.”

“I can’t forget but I don’t remember what.”

“Leonard Cohen I tip my hat to you,” he concluded. “I can’t forget you.”

A nappy  man performed “Chelsea Hotel”

“Great generosity prevailed in those doomed days.  I wrote this song for Janis Joplin,” he explained in an old recording of the song.”

“I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel

Giving me head while I lay in the unmade bed

You told me you preferred handsome men.

But you’d make an exception for me…”

The words evoke and remind, pointing to a symphony of memories.  I want to write a novel every time I listen to them. Thank you Leonard. The next novel will be for you and all those memories.

We left before he performed ‘Hey That’s No Way to Say Goodbye.”

The words are still pouring through me.

“I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm
Your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm
Yes, many loved before us, I know that we are not new
In city and in forest they smiled like me and you
But now it's come to distances and both of us must try
Your eyes are soft with sorrow
Hey, that's no way to say goodbye.”

Our not so little one is a folkie now. Maybe she'll play one by the old master.

Set list.

Someone asked me to post the set list from last night's show. Here it is:
1.I’m Your Man – Patricia Santos
2. There is a War- Benjamin Cartel (vox &guitar), Kenny Wachtel (guitar), Jessie Kilguss (backing vocals)
3. The Stranger Song - Richard Alwyn Fisher
4. Ain’t No Cure For Love – John Brodeur
5. Tower of Song – Terry Radigan (vox & guitar), Jason Loughlin (guitar), Rob Heath (drums), Jessie Kilguss and Anana Kaye (backing vocals)
6. In My Secret Life – Jon Crider, Bick Bicknell, Ann Bicknell
7. Dance Me to the End of Love- Heather Eatman(vocals) & Chris Foley (guitar)
8. Famous Blue Raincoat- Jessie Kilguss (vox) , Jason Loughlin (guitar), Rob Heath(drums), James Preston (bass)
9. Don’t Go Home with Your Hard On – Will Sheff (of Okkervil River) Jason Loughlin (guitar), Rob Heath (drums), James Preston (bass)
10. Never Any Good- Cliff Westfall (guitar & vocals), Jason Loughlin (guitar)
11. Waiting for a Miracle – Jason Loughlin with Rob Heath (drums), James Preston (bass) & Jessie Kilguss (backing vocals)
12. Everybody Knows- Beth Wawerna (of Bird of Youth on vocals) with Matt LeMay (guitar)
13. The Partisan – John Wray (vocals), Kenny Wachtel (guitar), Verena Wiesendanger (backing vocals)
14. Chelsea Hotel- Matthew Bannister(vocals) & Derreck Hawkins (guitar)
15. So Long Marianne – Robin Aigner (vox & guitar) & Michael Brownell (vox & bass), Anana Kaye (keyboard)
16. Suzanne- Richie Birkenhead
17. I Can’t Forget- Freddie Stevenson (guitar & vocals), Rob Heath (drums)
18. If It Be Your Will – John S Hall (vocals), Leslie Graves (vocals & Q chord), Jessie Kilguss and Susan Hwang (backing vox)
19. Bird on a Wire- Susan Hwang (Janggu & vocals), Charlie Nieland (guitar)
20. Did I Ever Love You – Charlie Neiland (guitar & vocals), Susan Hwang (janggu & vocals), Jessie Kilguss (vocals)
21. Alexandra Leaving – Irakli Gabriel (guitar) and Anana Kaye (vocals and keys)
22. Democracy- Pierre de Gaillande (guitar & vocals), Hilary Downes (keytar & vocals), Matt Brandau (bass), Jeff Schaeffer (drums)
23. A Thousand Kisses Deep- Hilary Downes (keytar & vocals), Pierre de Gaillande (guitar & vocals), Matt Brandau (bass), Jeff Schaeffer (drums)
24. One of Us Cannot Be Wrong – Ricky Lewis
25 Group Song: Hallelujah

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