The Roots, Patti Smith Highlight Dylan Tribute
Twenty-two artists, many of them celebrated in their own right, paid tribute to the acclaimed music of Bob Dylan last night (Nov. 9) at New York's Avery Fisher Hall.Twenty-two artists, many of them celebrated in their own right, paid tribute to the acclaimed music of Bob Dylan last night (Nov. 9) at New York's Avery Fisher Hall.
The event, which brought together an impressively varied assortment of esteemed talent -- including Al Kooper, Warren Haynes, Joan Osbourne, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Allen Toussaint and Roseanne Cash, as well as highly-touted younger artists like Cat Power, Ryan Adams and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah -- was a benefit for the Music For Youth Foundation, which provides music education to at-risk youth.
Produced by Michael Dorf, founder of the Knitting Factory, the evening ran with nary a glitch or disruption over the course of two-and-a-half hours. Handling a song a piece, the acts covered everything from early '60s breakthroughs like "The Times They Are A-Changin'" to brand new entries like "Thunder on the Mountain," off Dylan's most recent album, "Modern Times."
Among the highlights were a tender reading of "Dark Eyes" by Patti Smith, who was accompanied by Tony Shanahan on piano and Tom Verlaine on guitar; an instrumental jazz interpretation of "Ballad of a Thin Man" by the Jamie Saft trio; an energized "Positively 4th Street" by Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo; and a quirky "Ring Them Bells" by Jill Sobule, who along with a brass section was joined by Cyndi Lauper on vocals.
But the night really belonged to two artists: Natalie Merchant, with Philip Glass on piano, gave an exceedingly haunting reading of "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" that left the audience breathless. And avant-hip-hoppers the Roots blew the house down with an ecstatic, incendiary version of "Masters of War."
The trio -- on guitar, drums and tuba -- initially presented the damning lyrics to the tune of the "Star Spangled Banner," then segued into the original melody, taking several detours for fiery guitar solos and teases of other songs, including "Taps." The searing, politically charged performance brought the hall's entire sold-out crowd to its feet for a lengthy standing ovation.
Charles Feldman, Music For Youth's chairman, said the event raised $100,000 for MFY. Meanwhile, Dorf revealed that the next MFY benefit is already on the calendar: Carnegie Hall will host a tribute to the music of Bruce Springsteen on April 5, 2007.