Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Willie Nile at McCabe's
Although the ads said that Willie Nile hasn't played L.A. in 20 years, I somehow remember seeing him perform at the "Light of Day" benefit a few years back. In fact, that is how I first heard of him. His "Cell Phone (In the pockets of the Dead)" blew me away and I remember having to wait a few months for the CD to actually be released. "Streets of New York" is an excellent CD by the way. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We arrived way early on Saturday and so Maria and our friend Cathy, took off down the street while I held down the first place in line. As it turns out, there are extra benefits for being first in line. Besides getting to meet Gary, Willie's manager, McCabe's has a tradition of giving the first person in line a stool to sit on: Much nicer than the hard cement. So, Gary is a nice guy and we talk about how nice Willie is and how I'm going to love the new live CD that is coming out. Fun stuff. They let us in at 7:30 and we go right up to the front row. Sitting on the left, I notice that we are in front of the VIP seats. When the VIP's get there, I hear something about grass roots or something, but can't hear enough to get excited. Then one of them asks if the others have been to the new Largo. That's where I jump in. I proceed to tell them how great it is. They nod and smile. I don't think they wanted my input. Oh well. At just after 8pm, the show starts and... No opening act. Instead, the guy behind me stands up and goes to the stage to introduce Willie. So, those of you who watch The Office may have already figured out that it was Creed Bratton who used to be in the Grass Roots and is now on The Office who was sitting behind us. Creed does a great intro talking about how this is going to be so intense that we will be bleeding from our eyes. Willie loved that. Willie comes out on stage with his writing buddy, Frankie Lee, who plays a snare drum and sings backup vocals. Although he was on acoustic guitar most of the night, Willie did do a nice stint on piano. I think he is actually a better piano player than guitarist. He will be the first one to tell you he isn't a great guitarist. That is part of his charm. But playing guitar he stands and poses and moves like a rock star. Still it was only an acoustic guitar in his hands. It was a great visual. Playing lots of songs from his last CD, and several new songs, Willie charmed us all night, getting us to sing along to songs we have never heard and just making us laugh and smile. He is humble and funny and energetic; everything that makes for a fun rock and roll show. He closed the nearly 2 hour set with "I wanna be Sedated" using a choir of about a hundred to really make McCabe's Explode. After the show everyone hung around for an autograph, so we bought the live CD (it is very good) and headed out.
All the way around, McCabe's is a great showplace. They have good sound, a nice room and easily the nicest staff in L.A. Oh, and their cookies are from Trader Joes.