Corgan, Earle, Spector 'Waltz' In Chicago
An eclectic array of artists shared the stage Saturday at Chicago's Metro for the fourth annual Waltz benefit, which organizers said raised $40,000 for Heartland Alliance's Neon Street, a local charitAn eclectic array of artists shared the stage Saturday at Chicago's Metro for the fourth annual Waltz benefit, which organizers said raised $40,000 for Heartland Alliance's Neon Street, a local charity for homeless teens. Performers included former Smashing Pumpkins members Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin, Steve Earle, Ronnie Spector, Graham Parker, and a cast of notable local musicians.
The Waltz, which takes its name from the famous final concert by the Band, was conceived by Chicago native Nicholas Tremulis, and his orchestra proved its versatility as the house band for the performance with an extensive horn section, guitars, and percussion. Members of the Chicago-based gospel-rock collective Sonia Dada added backing vocals.
The highlights were as diverse as the artists themselves. The Mekons' Jon Langford teamed up with Chamberlin on a medley of Ramones' tunes, while a youthful Spector took the crowd "back to 1963" for her signature number, the Ronettes' "Be My Baby." Ken Nordine performed his free-form spoken word jazz to a rapt audience, while jazz veteran and Beat poet-collaborator David Amram dusted off music from his original score for "The Manchurian Candidate" for the first time in 40 years, as scenes from the film were projected behind him.
Blondie Chaplin, who has worked with everyone from the Rolling Stones to the Beach Boys, let loose a soulful rendition of Sam Cooke's "Change Is Gonna Come." Sonia Dada baritone Paris Delane, whose mother had passed away earlier in the day, fought his own tears as he sung an emotional "Amazing Grace."
Michael Scott teamed up with Corgan and Chamberlin for Deep Purple's "I'm Going Down." In only his second hometown performance since the Pumpkins' demise (the first being last year's Waltz III), Corgan offered some blistering guitar work in and around Scott's soaring vocals. Shawn Christopher pulled out all her diva stops with her club hit, a house version of "Never Knew Love."
The show concluded with the full ensemble, minus Corgan, crammed on stage for the obligatory all-star jam: Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone." Langford shared a mic with Ivan Neville and Alejandro Escovedo, who had played earlier with Tremulis and also with the Metro owner Joe Shanahan. Spector, Earle, and Chaplin took center stage, helping lead the ensemble and the crowd through the classic track.
Spector said she got involved because she feels that while many charities concern themselves with young children, teenagers are often overlooked despite their vulnerability. "Teenagers are the most important because they're the ones who will carry the rock and roll forward for all the rest of us," said the mother of two teenagers, adding, "Besides, it's really the hardest age."
Parker plays very few benefits, but accepted the invitation to perform because he would "rather have kids in a place, you know, than out on the streets f***ing around." He said he relished the chance to work with musicians like Earle that he respected from a distance but hadn't yet seen perform. Some, like Chamberlin were just proud to be a part of a great night. "It was an honor," he said succinctly.