Pay tribute to game-changing artists while simultaneously raising funds to educate the next generation of musicians. That’s the premise behind veteran New York concert promoter and City Winery founder Michael Dorf’s rite of passage every March: a tribute concert at Carnegie Hall. Celebrating its 10th year with a salute to the music of Paul Simon on March 31, the concert/benefit series has raised more than $1 million for music education.
Between 10 and 15 acts are invited each year to perform songs from the honored artist’s catalog. Among the first wave of performers announced for this year’s tribute are Bettye LaVette, the Civil Wars’ Joy Williams, Bob Mould, Allen Toussaint, Madeleine Peyroux, Steely Dan’s Jon Herington, Dan Wilson and Ben Sollee. Additions to the lineup will be announced soon.
As in years past, 100% of the concert’s net proceeds will be donated to music education nonprofits aiding underprivileged youth. This year’s recipients include the American Symphony Orchestra’s Music Notes, Church Street School for Music and Art, Young Audiences New York, FIKS (Fixing Instruments for Kids in Schools), Little Kids Rock and the Center for Arts Education.
Last year’s event paid tribute to Prince. Backed by house band the Roots, performers included Elvis Costello, D’Angelo, Talib Kweli, the Blind Boys of Alabama, PRINCEss (Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum) and comedian Chris Rock. Dorf’s previous sold-out tributes have honored Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, R.E.M., Neil Young, the Who and the Rolling Stones. Both Springsteen and R.E.M. performed unannounced encores at their concerts.
The concert series was born out of Dorf’s 27-year background in concert promotion. He founded music venue the Knitting Factory in 1987, which he sold in 2002. Six years later, Dorf established Manhattan’s winery/restaurant/performance space City Winery and recently opened a Chicago location.”Putting on these concerts was a way for me to help,” he says. “The combination of the iconic stature of the songwriters and hearing their music in such a hallowed hall has been a great juxtaposition for the public.”