Thursday, August 7, 2008

Richie Havens at Metrotech

Richie Havens. Another legend playing in Brooklyn. A wonderful show for a lovely summer afternoon, as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music's summer long "R & B Festival at Metrotech." Kudos to BAM. Richie Havens' mellow voice and intensively rhythmic guitar with that unique thumbed open fret playing style. Tales of growing up in Bed-Stuy and playing stickball on Howard Avenue drew cheers from the lunchtime crowd. Great show, what a wonderful, diverse crowd. Amazing that the iconic Richie Havens, so associated with the 1960s, would draw such an appreciative crowd of kids, young adults, boomers, older folks.

Mr. Havens, occasionally accompanied by an electric guitarist and a cellist, played "My Love is Alive," "All Along the Watchtower," "Dreams," "Woodstock," and more. He was joined onstage for two numbers by Marcus Franklin, a young performer who appeared as the youngest metaphorical reincarnation of Bob Dylan in the recent film "I'm Not There," who sang Dylan's "Hour That the Ship Comes In" and "Tombstone Blues" with a little energetic tap dance thrown in.

Mr Havens' stories were funny, sometimes veering off into mystical head scratchers, such as the tale of watching a press conference where it was announced that Pluto was no longer a planet, and he wondered what would become of all of those folks born under the sign of Pluto ? But that voice, that voice that is so familiar and warm and wise, immediately brought back thoughts, memories and reflections of the Woodstock era and its many hopeful iterations. His version of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock", simply, gave chills.

Richie Havens forthcoming album on Verve Forecast is "Nobody Left to Crown." Richie Havens, still performing worldwide, is an icon of an era. While he is known more as an interpreter than a songwriter (his more recent albums have included many original compositions), his original style and unique artistic identity retain an important and enduring place in American popular music.

Richie Havens website: http://www.richiehavens.com/

Youtube: Where the Legend Begins: Richie Havens at Woodstock 1969:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1pMeyy__r0

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